Dear Mr. Kwan,
I just wanted to tell you that you are right because I just lost USD5 million because of the MT103/23. I told my bank (sender) that the MT103/23 must be conditional but at the end (receiver) handed out the money without requesting the documents.
>> Mr. Kenneth Kwan, Energy Quebec Inc
SWIFT MT-103 (Field 23)
SWIFT is a closed, private telecoms network whose subscribers are banks, merchant banks, securities houses and other qualified financial institutions. Banks send messages to one another on the SWIFT system using formats known as MTs (Message Types) numbered from MT100 to MT999, each for a different purpose.
MT103 is the format banks use when they execute what is known to a layman as a wire transfer, cable transfer, funds transfer, telegraphic transfer or SWIFT transfer.
Suppose A has an account with Bank X and he needs to transfer money to B whose account is with Bank Y in another country. A goes to Bank X, fills out a remittance form with all particulars. Bank X debits A’s account and sends a SWIFT MT103 to Bank Y. Bank Y debits Bank X and credits B’s account and advises B that it has received a remittance.
That is all there is to MT103. Nobody who does not work in the telex room of a bank needs to know any more than that.
MT103 is a definite, authenticated, unconditional transfer of funds. In the above example Bank Y must credit B’s account, nothing more nothing less. There is no such thing as a Conditional MT103. It's another brokerspeak.
"Field 23 - Instruction Code" is where the remitting bank (at the request of the remitter) puts in a simple code instructing the beneficiary's bank how to effect the payment, such as "Credit Account under Advice", "Telephone beneficiary on receipt", and such like.
MT103 is a straight-through processing mechanism requiring very little manual intervention, except in simple tasks like above.
MT103 CANNOT BE CONDITIONAL. FUNDS SENT WILL BE CREDITED TO THE BENEFICIARY.
You cannot send an MT103 with a condition that the beneficiary's bank must receive, say certain documents, from the beneficiary before crediting his account. Such a request will be rejected by the remitting bank, and if sent in Field 23 (which allows for only a few standard codes) will be rejected and ignored by the beneficiary's bank who will credit the beneficiary's account anyway.
Transactions that involve the exchange of money for documents are documentary collections (D/A, D/P etc.) and are processed in other ways, or under Documentary Letters of Credit. Different and specific SWIFT Message Types are designed for them. Banks are banks, they are not lawyers or trust companies.
Never heard of a feature in SWIFT MT103 which can create a Pre-Advice, or to allow for a Pre-Advice to suspend the funds transfer pending certain event or condition to be met, although within the MT103 it could includes a field (this field is definitely not Field 23) which can contain up to 9000 characters that one ordering customer may want to pass on to a beneficiary customer in another structured format, such as EDIFACT or ANSI. That does not mean the funds are not transferred - by the time the message is sent, the 'straight-through processing' of the receiving bank of the MT103 would credit the beneficiary's account.