According to SWIFT-Code.org, the acronym stands for "Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication." SWIFT is a member-owned organization that handles secure transactions and communications between banks worldwide. Each bank that uses SWIFT has its own code that identifies where the communication originates and what business it is intended for.
SWIFT-Code.org notes that the SWIFT identifier codes are also known as Business Identifier Codes, or BIC. These codes have four parts that identify the bank, country, bank location and the specific bank branch. The SWIFT corporate website notes that SWIFT does not hold funds, store financial information or manage customer accounts. It simply provides a safe, automated way for banks to communicate between each other and transfer funds.