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Breaking Down the Concept: What is an Intermediary Bank?

Susan Kelly

Nov 21, 2023

Do you ever wish that the complexity of banking and money transfer lingo could be more transparent? Many people are familiar with banks, but don't know what exactly an intermediary bank is and how it works. Today we're here to break down this complicated concept for you: what is an intermediary bank and why do we use them? With all the financial products out there, understanding the different types of institutions can seem daunting at first. Once you get a grasp on concepts like intermediaries however, navigating your way through everything from regular business transactions to international payments becomes easier!

What is an Intermediary Bank & How Does it Work?

When sending money across international borders, you might have heard the term "intermediary bank" thrown around. But what exactly is an intermediary bank? Simply put, it's a bank that acts as a middleman for a transaction between two other banks. When you're sending money abroad, your bank will likely use an intermediary bank to facilitate the transfer.

The intermediary bank is responsible for verifying the transaction, converting the currency if necessary, and ensuring the funds reach their intended destination. It's important to note that using an intermediary bank can sometimes result in fees being added to your transfer, so it's worth looking into before you send money internationally.

Benefits of Utilizing an Intermediary Bank:

When it comes to banking transactions that involve two different currencies, utilizing an intermediary bank can offer a variety of benefits.

  • It can streamline the process by reducing the number of steps needed to complete the transaction.
  • An intermediary bank can often offer better exchange rates than a typical bank.
  • It can provide additional security measures to protect against fraud and other risks.

Overall, utilizing an intermediary bank can simplify and enhance international transactions.

Prerequisites for Opening an Intermediary Bank Account:

Opening an intermediary bank account can offer several benefits to businesses, such as faster and more efficient international transactions. However, before you can reap the rewards, there are important prerequisites to consider.

  1. You need to be registered as a business or legal entity with the appropriate authorities. This is to ensure that you are a credible entity with a legitimate business purpose.
  2. You need to have a good credit history and adequate financial resources. Intermediary banks need to be confident that you have the capability to handle international transactions and can honor your financial obligations.
  3. You need to provide relevant documents such as your business registration certificate, proof of identity, tax identification number, and certified copies of your financial statements.

By following these prerequisites, you can strengthen your chances of opening an intermediary bank account.

The Processes Involved in Transferring Funds Through an Intermediary Bank:

Transferring funds through an intermediary bank can be a complex process involving multiple steps. First, the sender initiates the transfer by providing the necessary information such as the recipient's account details and the amount to be transferred. The sending bank then verifies the transaction and sends it to the intermediary bank for further processing. The intermediary bank then checks the details and makes sure the funds are transferred to the correct account.

Once the transfer is completed successfully, the recipient bank confirms the receipt of the funds to the recipient. While the process may seem convoluted at first, it is critical to ensuring the safe and efficient transfer of funds across different banks and financial institutions.

Important Things to Consider Before Using an Intermediary Bank:

When it comes to using an intermediary bank, there are a few key things you need to keep in mind. First and foremost, make sure you do your research and choose a reputable intermediary bank to work with. You'll also want to take into account any fees or charges associated with using an intermediary bank, as these can add up quickly and eat into your funds.

Additionally, it's important to consider how long the transfer will take and factor this into your plans. By carefully considering these key factors, you can ensure a smooth and successful transaction when using an intermediary bank.

Common Challenges Faced When Working With an Intermediary Bank:

When it comes to international banking transactions, intermediaries banks can sometimes be a necessary link in the chain. Unfortunately, working with an intermediary bank can sometimes bring its own set of challenges to the table.

  1. Lack of transparency: It can be difficult to determine which banks are used in a transaction, which can lead to unexpected fees and longer processing times.
  2. Potential for errors: Mistakes can happen when information is passed from one bank to another, potentially leading to delays or even lost funds.
  3. Language barriers can create complications: particularly if the intermediary bank is located in a country with a different language.

Despite these challenges, however, many companies continue to work with intermediary banks because they offer a critical service for international transactions.


Intermediary banking can be a beneficial tool for facilitating the process of transferring funds across borders. From the potential advantages such as increased security and reduced costs, to being aware of any prerequisites needed and common challenges that may arise, understanding what an intermediary bank is and how it works should provide a better insight into making the right decisions when transferring funds overseas. By properly weighing the pros and cons of working with intermediary banks, business owners can determine if using an intermediary bank’s services would be the best option for their company.


Q: How do I find a reputable intermediary bank?

A: It is important to do your research and choose an intermediary bank that has a good track record and is trusted by other clients. You may also want to check with the local regulatory authorities for their opinions on different banks. In addition, you can read online reviews or speak to someone who has experience dealing with different banks.

Q: What documents do I need to open an intermediary bank account?

A: In order to open a bank account, you typically need to provide your business registration certificate, proof of identity, tax identification number, and certified copies of your financial statements. You may also need to provide other documents depending on the requirements of the intermediary bank.

Q: Are there any fees associated with using an intermediary bank?

A: Some banks may charge a fee for their services, so it is important to check before you make a decision. Additionally, you should consider any exchange rate charges when transferring funds between different currencies. Make sure that you are aware of all the fees and charges that may apply before you decide to use an intermediary bank.

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