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Money transfer jargon explained

To BIC, SWIFT or sort? It depends on the country! Learn the jargon for sending money overseas for easy, error-free transfers.

Domestic and international transfer terms vary by country and region. Here's a few you may come across when sending money abroad.

Bank Identifier Code (BIC)/SWIFT code

The BIC code, also called the SWIFT code, is a number that identifies your bank. It's the international equivalent of a sort code and it's similar to a US routing number. A BIC is needed if you want to send or receive money from overseas. If you bank with HSBC, you'll find your BIC on your bank statement.

Bankers' Automated Clearing System (BACS)

BACS is an electronic system to make payments from one bank account to another. Alternatively, direct credit is when another party deposits money into your account, such as your salary payment.


A Clearing House Automated Payment System, or 'CHAPS Payment', is a way of sending a sterling payment to another account in the UK, the Channel Islands or Isle of Man.

Direct Debit

Direct Debits are mainly used for payments when you've given another party permission to take money from your bank account, such as for a utility bill.

Fast and Secure Transfers (FAST)

FAST is an electronic funds transfer service that enables customers to transfer Singapore dollar funds almost immediately from one participating bank to another in Singapore.

Faster Payment System (FPS)

FPS is a free and instant domestic payment service in Hong Kong to individuals and merchants in Hong Kong dollar or Chinese renminbi. FPS supports payments through online and mobile banking; via the payee's mobile number, email address, FPS Identifiers or Hong Kong ID (HKID); and through QR code scanning or app-to-app.

foreign exchange rate (FX)

This is the rate applied when you exchange one currency for another. Currency exchange rates go up and down over time and can vary depending on which bank, or company, you use to make the exchange.

HSBC Global Transfers

HSBC Global Transfers is an instant money transfer service of up to USD200,000 (or the currency equivalent) a day to self-named or eligible third-party overseas personal HSBC accounts. The service is free for eligible HSBC customers.

Interbank GIRO (IBG)

IBG is a convenient and cash-free electronic bank-to-bank money transfer system.

International Bank Account Number (IBAN)

Your IBAN is a unique code used to identify your specific bank account for the purpose of cross-border payments. If you bank with HSBC, this number is found at the top of bank statements near your account number and in your online banking or mobile banking app.


This is a payment of money that is transferred to another party. The term is most often used to describe money sent by someone working abroad to their family back home.

sort code

This is a six-digit number that identifies the bank and branch where an account is held. This is also referred to as branch sort code. Other countries have different systems, such as BIC or SWIFT.

SWIFT code

Short for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, SWIFT codes are needed to identify bank accounts when you're sending or receiving global money transfers. This code includes the bank, country or region, location, and branch code information.

telegraphic transfer (TT)

Also known as telex transfers, this electronic method of transferring funds is mainly used for overseas wire transactions. To use this service, you'll need the receiver's complete bank account information, including the SWIFT code.

Ready to open an overseas account?

We can tell you the best way for you to apply for an overseas account. Simply select your current location and where you would like to open an account. We'll then walk you through the steps.


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