Swift Code is a unique identification code for a particular bank. It is a standard format for Business Identifier Codes (BICs, previously known as Bank Identifier Codes). It is technically used to identify banks and financial institutions globally distinctively - it says who and where they are. People use these codes to transfer money within banks for international wire transfers (the reason you're probably here looking up for info). SWIFT codes and BIC codes are same and the terms are interchangeable.
The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (“SWIFT”) headquartered in La Hulpe, Belgium, handles the registrations of Swift Codes. SWIFT is trademarked by S.W.I.F.T. SCRL with a registered address at Avenue Adèle 1, B-1310 La Hulpe, Belgium. SWIFT was founded in Brussels in the year 1973 under the leadership of CEO Carl Reuterskiöld and was supported by 239 banks in fifteen countries. SWIFT has become the industry standard for the format in financial messages. Many well-known financial processing systems can read and process messages formatted in SWIFT standards, whether the message travels over the SWIFT network or not. SWIFT cooperates with international organizations for defining standards for message format and content.
Financial institutions around the world use the system provided by them to convey and collect data about financial transactions in a safe, qualified and reliable environment. SWIFT also sells software and services to financial institutions, most of it for use on the SWIFTNet Network.
Swift codes are usually formed of 8 (or) 11 characters. You can understand that a swift code or BIC refers to a primary office when it's formatted in an 8-digit code. The codes are arranged in the following manner:
AAAA BB CC DDD