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SWIFT Profits Drop 31 Percent Following Bangladesh Hack

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The SWIFT transfer network has seen profits slashed after it invested in expanding security operations following the $81m Bangladesh Bank heist

The international bank transfer system SWIFT saw its profits drop by nearly one-third as the group boosted spending on security in the wake of hacks on its owner-customer banks.

The shift followed a hack on Bangladesh’s central bank in which thieves made off with $81 million (£63m) by initiating fraudulent SWIFT transfer messages from within the bank’s own systems.

Security concern

The heist and similar attempts led to uncertainty over how well SWIFT was protected, with the Bank of England ordering a review of the system in May of last year.

In December 2016 SWIFT acknowledged attempted hacks on three unnamed banks but said none had been successful.

Europe network
Belgium-based SWIFT increased its investments in security and saw its 2016 profit before tax and rebates to owner-customers fall by 31 percent to 47 million euros (£41m), the group said in its annual report, published on Friday.

Strategic shift

The network is run as a service to owner-member banks, who receive its profits back in the form of rebates, amounting to 33 million euros in 2015. Banks received no rebate in 2016.

Since last year SWIFT has expanded its security operations and developed new services to help banks monitor transactions, with a tool for helping spot fraudulent messages released in April of this year.

In its annual report SWIFT chairman Yawar Shah said the group had linked management incentives to security achievements.

Traffic on the network continues to grow, hitting an all-time peak of 30 million messages in June 2016.

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