Can international wires be cancelled?

Post Picture
Post Picture

Publication date

Wire transfers are known as the go-to method for many cross-border payments. They’re also a multi-step process in which you need to ensure that you know the recipient and have the correct bank account information. If at any point you’ve made an error or suspect you might be the victim of fraud, you may be panicking and wondering: can international wire transfers be cancelled?


Remitting a cross-border payment via wire can take hours or days, but, theoretically, once the money has been “pushed through” and is in the recipient’s account, it cannot be “pulled back.” However, there are some steps you can take to cancel a wire transfer if it’s still in process, depending on the way the wire has been sent. 


How international wire transfers work

International wire transfers are more complex than domestic because they connect two different banking systems and (in some cases) two different currencies. In the EU, international wire transfers can be facilitated through SWIFT or SEPA. 


SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, is a messaging network that relays account data through secure and encrypted channels. SWIFT does not hold funds or manage accounts but rather provides a streamlined process for more than 11,000 financial institutions to send and receive funds. SWIFT has pre-payment verification to confirm account details in real-time, which can reduce potential errors in account numbers or fraudulent activity. 


SWIFT transactions may go through multiple intermediaries (such as correspondent banks) and are subject to currency exchange rates. All of this takes time: even though wire transfers are perceived to be a fast process for domestic payments, they can take a few days for international transfers. 

The Single Euro Payments Area, or SEPA, provides payment integration in euros. It includes the 27 member states of the EU, the four member states of the European Free Trade Association, and the U.K. SEPA makes euro cross-border payments very efficient, much like a normal domestic bank transfer. Payments can be sent either within a single business day or instantly.


The process to dispute or recall an international wire transfer

When it comes to dealing with global transactions, the possibility of stopping or reversing an international wire transfer depends on a few important factors. The method you used for payment, the reason for wanting to cancel, and where the transaction currently stands all play a role in whether cancellation is possible.


It's also important to understand that successfully cancelling an international wire transfer greatly depends on how quickly you take action and the policies of the banks involved.


Once the recipient has received the funds, things become more complicated, and the chances of cancellation success decrease. The outcome often relies on the recipient's bank cooperation and the willingness of the recipient to return the money.

So, what's the process for cancelling a SWIFT transfer? If a SWIFT payment is still in progress, you do have options to explore.


In cases involving fraudulent payments, you can take action by initiating a recall notice. SWIFT allows for payments to be halted and funds to be retrieved by the sender. This intervention takes place within the SWIFT network, effectively stopping any further processing of the payment.


If fraud isn't the issue, cancelling a SWIFT payment is still possible. However, the ease and efficiency of the process can vary depending on the bank you're dealing with.

Now, how about cancelling a SEPA transfer? Generally, SEPA transfers are considered irreversible once initiated. There are exceptions to this rule, such as cases of fraud or incorrect execution of the transfer, like sending duplicates or encountering technical errors. According to the European Payment Council rule book, recall requests for technical errors must be submitted within 10 business days, and for fraudulent transfers, within 13 months.


iBanFirst, a reliable partner for your cross-border payments

At iBanFirst, we don't just enable you to collect, convert, and send funds efficiently across 140+ countries; we're also fully aware of the complexities and challenges that come with managing cross-border transactions. We understand that cancelling payments can be a bit of a puzzle, especially given the tight window for taking action. That's why we've made it our priority to be right there with you, guiding you through every step of the process.

The great news is that if you're dealing with Swift and SEPA payments that are still within iBanFirst, cancelling them is always on the table. And for those situations that go beyond that scope, there's no need to worry. Our team of payment specialists is just a quick phone call away. They're here not only to provide you with the information you're after but also to jump into action on your behalf, helping you untangle any kind of issue that might arise.

Interested in learning more about how we can help you navigate currency payment complexities? Feel free to talk to our experts here