SWIFT international bank system should not be confused with Tammy Swift banking system

Columnist Tammy Swift may be distantly related to Taylor Swift, but she wants people to know she did not found the SWIFT global banking system. In fact, she says the last time there was this much interest in any Swift banking system was 1985, when Mom and Dad Swift wondered how she could spend a whole quarter of student-loan money on shaker sweaters, trips to Target and Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers.

Tammy Swift online column sig revised 3-16-21.jpg

FARGO — Holy cow.

I’ve been going viral lately.

I haven’t heard my last name this many times since Taylor Swift ran her Suzuki Swift into the back end of a Swift Trucking semi.

My family should have trademarked the Swift name before it became monopolized by the sausage people, the trucking firm or the incredibly famous pop star.

Incidentally, we are supposedly eighth cousins, once removed, to Taylor, which makes the term "distant cousins" even sound like overexaggeration. We also have a link to the sausage-making Swifts. (Heh-heh — see what I did there?) Many years ago, my dad's sisters had spent a lot of time tracing the Swift family tree back hundreds of years.


According to family lore, my gregarious (and apparently fearless) Aunt May decided to pay a visit to the most recent branch of the Swift meatpacking fortune, perhaps figuring they would be as excited to meet their small-town, Midwestern, shirt-tail relatives as Aunt May was to learn we were related to mega-millionaires.

The story goes that the door to their mansion was opened by a patrician-looking woman (who I like to imagine wore a monocle and clutched her pearls while looking like Miss Jane did when she learned the Clampetts had emptied the swimming pool and turned it into a possum rescue.)

Undeterred, Aunt May told her about her genealogy discovery, concluding with a statement that she believed we were distant cousins.

To which the WASP-y Swift responded, in a tone that could instantly freeze hot lava: “That’s highly unlikely,” and slammed the door.

But I digress.

The most famous Swift, as of late, has never parlayed bacon into millions and has never dated Jake Gyllenhaal.

Instead, it's a mere acronym.

Until last week, many of us knew little about the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT), a universally accepted messaging system for money transfers, which is used in over 200 countries around the world.


In fact, the last time there was this much interest in any Swift banking system was 1985, when Mom and Dad Swift wondered how I could spend a whole quarter of student-loan money on shaker sweaters , trips to Target and Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers.

As many of you know by now, the idea behind a SWIFT ban on Russia is that banks in the country would not be able to accept funds or make payments outside of Vladland, thus exerting pressure on their ruler to withdraw from Ukraine.

This seems considerably different from the Swift ban of my college years, after which I hypothesized that filling out a check in green ink would take longer for the bank to process, thus ensuring my paycheck would reach the bank before the aforementioned check.

Who knew that this wasn’t reliable advice? It turns out that one really should get banking information from professionals rather than from drunk girls standing next to you in line for the restroom at a Corey Hart concert.

It wasn’t long after the green-ink experiment that my parents suddenly got all NATO on me, informing me that unless I straightened up, they would ban me from using a checkbook, thus leaving me to pay for all essential college supplies — including late-night meals at Ember’s and that Garfield with suction cups — with change found between the seats of my Chevy Citation.

Ultimately, the parental sanctions worked. The good news is that they forced me to get a second job and stop viewing checkbooks as magical “pretend” currency, which could be used to lease unicorns and sublet rainbows in an imaginary world of bottomless checking accounts.

The bad news is that, at about the same time, I discovered credit cards.

I'll bet my monocle-wearing cousins never had such problems.


Tammy has been a storyteller most of her life. Before she learned the alphabet, she told stories by drawing pictures and then dictated the narrative to her ever-patient mother. A graduate of North Dakota State University, she has worked as a Dickinson, N.D., bureau reporter, a Bismarck Tribune feature writer/columnist, a Forum feature reporter, columnist and editor, a writer in NDSU's Publications Services, a marketing/social media specialist, an education associate in public broadcasting and a communications specialist at a nonprofit.
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