Decoding Banking Terms – Sort Code, Swift Code & Account Number

In the world of money transfers, there are different ways to move funds – from paying local suppliers for goods, transferring salaries to local outsourced teams, and sending money to your personal connections through mobile internet bank transfers, wire transfers, or digital apps.

While these methods facilitate domestic transactions, navigating cross-border financial exchanges requires you to understand specific banking terms. This is where the concepts of sort codes, bank codes, account numbers, and SWIFT codes come into play. 

By shedding light on these terms, you will be more empowered to navigate global transactions more effectively, with confidence and ease. Businesses engaged in international trade, including exporters, importers, logistics companies, and even small business owners and online retailers, often leverage these codes as indispensable tools to ensure secure and seamless cross-border payments.

In this blog post, we will share insights on the differences between these four key terms you’ll encounter while making global transactions.  

What is a sort code?

A sort code, consisting of six digits, serves as a unique identifier for banks in the UK and Ireland,  aiding in directing money transfers to the correct bank location. The first two digits denote the bank, while the subsequent pairs indicate the specific branch. If your business requires you to transfer money to or from the UK and Ireland, do ensure you have keyed in the right sort codes to ensure accurate routing. Mistakes with the sort code can lead to misdirected funds. 

What is an account number?

The account number is a unique set of digits used to identify an individual bank account. Paired with the sort code, the account number enables precise routing of funds within a specific country. It ensures that the money is deposited into the correct bank account associated with a particular customer.

A typical DBS Bank corporate account number might look something like this:

Bank: DBS Bank

Account Number: 012-345678-9

The account number typically includes a combination of digits and may include dashes or spaces for easier reading. It’s important to provide the correct account number when conducting transactions to ensure accurate fund transfers. 

An account number, when combined with the sort code, is essential for carrying out everyday banking tasks, such as direct deposits, transfers, and standing orders. If your business invoice your customers for goods and services, it is a good practice to include your account number and sort code on your invoices so your customers can pay you directly via bank transfer. 

What is a bank code?

In Singapore, a bank code is like a secret number for each bank. It has four digits, and each bank has its own unique code. For example, the bank code for DBS in Singapore is 7171, and for UOB, it’s 7375. This number helps make sure money goes to the right bank when people send it. If you have a business and send invoices to customers, you can include this bank code along with your account number. This helps your customers pay you correctly, almost like giving them the right address to send money to.

What is a SWIFT Code (BIC – Bank Identifier Code)?

The SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) code, also known as the BIC (Bank Identifier Code), is an alphanumeric code used for international money transfers. For example:

Bank Name: DBS Bank

Location: Singapore


In this example, “DBSSSGSG” is the SWIFT code for DBS Bank in Singapore. The “XXX” at the end represents the branch code, which is optional and can be used to specify a particular branch of the bank. The SWIFT code is a unique code used internationally for identifying banks during cross-border transactions.  Unlike the sort code and account number, the SWIFT code is employed for cross-border transactions. It helps identify the recipient’s bank and its location worldwide, ensuring that the money is routed accurately and securely to the intended international account.

Why are Sort Code, Bank Code, Account Number, and SWIFT Codes a Necessity?

When it comes to handling money globally, knowing about Sort Codes, Bank Codes, Account Numbers, and SWIFT Codes is really important. These codes are like special codes that help make sure money goes to the right places when you pay suppliers, get paid, or do business with people from other countries. Sort Codes and Bank Codes help with local and international payments, Account Numbers are like your account’s special ID, and SWIFT Codes keep your cross-border transactions safe. Understanding and using these codes correctly will help your business handle money smoothly and securely, whether you’re trading with others or getting paid from around the world.

Is Sharing My Sort Code, Bank Code, Account Number, and SWIFT Code Safe?

Sharing your sort code and account number with others for domestic transactions is generally safe. These details are regularly used for various payment methods and are required for setting up direct debits or receiving payments. However, the SWIFT code, being involved in international transactions, requires more caution. While sharing your SWIFT code is necessary for receiving international payments, be vigilant when sharing other personal and financial information, as it could potentially lead to fraudulent activities.

Selecting the Right Global Payment Solution Provider

In conclusion, understanding the significance of sort codes, bank codes, account numbers, and SWIFT codes is essential for conducting seamless domestic and international transactions. With this knowledge, you can navigate the intricacies of modern banking with confidence, knowing that your finances are in secure hands. If you have regular transactions across the globe, identifying the right global digital payment provider is crucial for your business’s financial operations. 

As you embark on your search for a global payment solution, it’s important to ensure that the provider aligns with the specific objectives of your transaction. Consider factors such as the fees associated with the service, the speed at which transactions are processed, the user-friendliness of the platform, and the quality of customer service provided. 

Find out how a comprehensive solution for acquiring a multi-currency digital wallet platform like G-EMx can offer a seamless experience that caters to your business’s unique needs. By making an informed choice, you empower your business to engage in global transactions confidently and efficiently. So, take the first step towards global financial empowerment and explore the world of opportunities that international banking has to offer. For more information on how G-EMx can propel your B2B business growth globally, visit our website, or download our App on iStore on Apple or PlayStore on Android.

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