DEFINITION of 'Bank Wire'

A bank wire is an electronic message system, which allows major banks to communicate various actions or occurrences regarding client accounts. The wire represents a secure computerized messaging system that sends account information, notifications, and transaction requests between banks.


While the bank wire does not affect actual transfer payments, such as a wire transfer, it will provide the financial institutions with knowledge of such events. For example, the purpose of a bank wire would be to notify a bank if a client has deposited funds into its account.

Bank Wire v. Wire Transfer

In contrast with a bank wire (although perhaps more well known) a wire transfer is an electronic transfer of funds across a network, which a global group of hundreds of banks administers. In particular, wire transfers can help people in different geographic locations safely transfer money to one another. During a wire transfer no physical money is exchanged between banks or financial institutions; instead, banks pass information among one other regarding who the recipient is, what her bank account number is, and how much money she is receiving.

International bank account numbers (IBAN numbers) help in the identification of the correct financial institutions in complex bank wire transfers. A wire sender first pays for the transaction up front at his bank. Then, the recipient's bank all necessary information from the initiating bank and deposits its own reserve funds into the recipient's account.

Bank Wire and Security

Cybersecurity threats are increasing with more online financial services, such as bank wires and wire transfers. Threats to a computer system are classified by the method used to attack.

Three common types of cyber attacks include:

  • Backdoor attacks: These exploit alternate methods of accessing a system, which don't require usual authentication methods. Some systems come with these backdoors by design, while others result from error.

  • Denial-of-service attacks: These prevent the correct account user from accessing a system. A common method of denial-of-service attacks is entering a wrong password enough times that the account is locked.

  • Direct-access attacks: These includes bugs and viruses, which gain access to a system and copy its information and/or modify the system entirely.

While any individual system is vulnerable to cyberattacks, larger entities, such as major commercial banks, along with other large businesses (e.g. Fortune 500 companies that deal with consumer data), along with government agencies and systems, are often key targets.

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