In the course of carrying out payment and securities transactions, information and messages are exchanged by banks and securities dealers. This exchange of information occurs when conducting international and in some cases domestic payment and securities transactions and when making information inquiries through the SWIFT system. It is essential as a means of facilitating connections between all banks and ensuring the orderly processing of clients' transactions. Data protection is accorded by the strict data protection standards adhered to by SWIFT. However, SWIFT stores data abroad. Up until 2012, data will be stored in the Netherlands and in the US, and from 2012 onwards they will be stored in Switzerland and the Netherlands. For technical reasons it was not possible to devise an economically feasible, practical solution as an alternative to SWIFT that could have been used for all domestic payment and securities transactions.
Data stored abroad are no longer protected under Swiss law and may be passed on to foreign authorities in accordance with the regulations of the country where the client data is stored.
FINMA urges banks and securities dealers to inform their clients (FINMA Newsletter 3).