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What is an MT199

July 7, 2024July 15th, 2024No Comments
Mariel Rhetta
Content Strategist at Rutland FX
Published on: (Updated ) - minute read

If you regularly make or receive payments on the SWIFT network, you may have come across the term MT199. In this article, we will explore what MT199 is and provide some practical examples of its usage.

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What is an MT199?

The MT199 is a free-format message used within the SWIFT network. Unlike other specific MT messages such as an MT103, which are designed for predefined transactions, the MT199 allows banks and financial institutions to communicate freely about any topic related to financial transactions. It serves as a general-purpose message for various uses that do not fit into the predefined categories.

Uses of MT199

The flexibility of the MT199 message makes it invaluable for several scenarios, particularly for clarifying or amending transaction details, requesting information, and addressing issues that arise during the transaction process. Below are some common uses:

  • Clarifications and Amendments: An MT199 can be used to correct or clarify transaction details. For instance, if an error is made in the account name during a fund transfer, the sending institution can use an MT199 to request the recipient bank to amend the account name to ensure the funds are correctly allocated.
  • Requests for Information: Banks can use MT199 messages to request additional information related to a transaction, such as verifying the identity of a beneficiary or confirming transaction details.
  • Notifications: It can be used to notify the recipient bank about certain actions, such as the anticipated receipt of funds or updates on transaction status.
  • Recalls: MT199s can be used for recalls or cancellations; however, MT192s are more commonly used.

Let’s consider a practical example to illustrate the use of an MT199 message.

Imagine a UK business sends money to a supplier in China to pay an invoice. Sometimes, banks in China verify incoming payments against the account name. In this case, the UK business instructed the payment to “Beijing Manufacturing Co Ltd.” However, the account name as it shows on the recipient’s bank statement is actually “Beijing International Manufacturing Co Ltd.” This discrepancy can sometimes cause the receiving bank to hold the payment. When this happens, an MT199 message can be sent behind the payment, instructing the bank to update the account name on the original payment message to get the funds allocated to the correct account.

Breakdown of the MT199 Message Format

Below is an example of a very general MT199 message requesting to update the account name to “Beijing International Manufacturing Co Ltd”:




:79:Please amend the account name from “Beijing Manufacturing Co Ltd” to “Beijing International Manufacturing Co Ltd” for transaction reference 1234567890. -}

  • Block 1: Contains the basic header, specifying the sender’s and receiver’s SWIFT codes.
  • Block 2: Contains the application header, indicating the message type (MT199) and receiver’s SWIFT code.
  • Block 4: Contains the actual message text which includes the Transaction reference number (:20:), Related reference (:21:), often used to specify the purpose or nature of the message and finally the narrative or free format text (:79:) containing the main body of the message, in this case, the request to amend the account name.

It’s important to note that while the MT199 message allows for free-format communication, there are specific conventions to follow when using it for responses or acknowledgments. Our breif example is accurate for general requests and amendments, but for responses or detailed queries, additional structured data such as message type, date, and session number is usually included to ensure proper processing by the receiving bank’s systems.

The MT199 message is a versatile tool within the SWIFT network, enabling financial institutions to communicate freely about transaction-related matters. Whether it's correcting errors, requesting additional information, or providing notifications, the MT199 ensures smooth and accurate processing of financial transactions. Its flexibility and utility make it an essential component of the global financial messaging system.

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