The Bircher muesli of keys

Cereal timeAs was already mentioned on a blog post on 25/07/14, “EBICS has arrived in Switzerland”, the Swiss financial centres are moving in on the EBICS community of the country’s two biggest neighbours, France and Germany. The perception of EBICS in France has proved to be somewhat different than in Germany, while Swiss stakeholders are unsure about which variant would be the best for them. In terms of order types, the trend is currently leaning towards France, i.e. FUL/FDL in conjunction with the use of format parameters, instead of the multitude of order types in Germany. But when it comes to the application of electronic signatures, things get a little more complicated. Precisely how should these be implemented for customers?

The German variant, featuring automatic key pair generation for encryption (E002), authentication (X002) and for signatures (A005/A006), is currently the variant in use in Switzerland, while the German VEU system (distributed digital signature) is in the first planning stages. Continue reading

Portugal in the age of EBICS

portugese euro

Foto: © Hugh O’Neill – fotolia.com

Just like the French banks in 2009 and the German banks in 2008, numerous Portuguese banks have decided to use the EBICS protocol for their exchange of financial flows with companies.

Two principal reasons have motivated this change:

1. The planned cessation of network X25 by Portugal Telecom from 30th June 2014,

2. The inability of certain protocols, utilised until now, to transfer files comprising records of varying sizes, as is the case with SEPA formats.

The Portuguese banks therefore had to suggest to their client companies a substitute exchange channel which was accessible, secure, inexpensive and operated across borders. Continue reading

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Standardisation of payment transactions is still a distant reality

SEPA - 3D

Foto: © hainichfoto – fotolia.com

In Europe we have now already introduced SEPA for the standardised payment transfer system. However, SEPA payments cannot be made electronically to just any European bank of one’s choice. In Germany companies use the order type CCT for submitting SEPA transactions (SEPA Credit Transfer) to financial institutions. Why are SEPA transfers from any Euro country with this order type not automatically possible?

The XML-based SEPA data formats have now been comprehensively adopted in the European countries involved. The goal was, and remains, to standardise data formats and regulations surrounding payment transactions after the introduction of the single currency, thus allowing a simpler electronic payment medium for within Europe. Continue reading

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EBICS has arrived in Switzerland

Swiss bank notes

Foto: © pagomenos – Fotolia.com

Let us firstly take a look back at the seventh Petersberg Electronic Banking Forum held on 10 November 2011. Christian Schwinghammer from SIX Interbank Clearing Switzerland gives a presentation there on the topic “EBICS goes Europe – where is Switzerland?”. Schwinghammer, an expert in the Swiss banking arena, was already rather confident that the standard will be implemented across all the Swiss financial institutions, particularly with two of the biggest heavyweights, UBS and Credit Suisse, already working with the EBICS communications channel.

However, the rapprochement often announced between the EBICS organisation and the Swiss delegates has been repeatedly delayed and has been progressing at glacial pace. Amid intensive tax dispute with Europe (on flat-rate withholding tax) and the US (FATCA), the topic of EBICS has taken a back seat on the part of the bank managers. Continue reading

The Luzerner Kantonalbank invests in EBICS

Switzerland Lucerne

Foto: © kiska_murka – fotolia.com

For the first time, EBICS is now fully supported by a Swiss cantonal bank. By using EBICS, the Luzerner Kantonalbank (LUKB) causes a stir in Switzerland. EBICS should be going live at LUKB in 2014. I am pleased to see that EBICS has expanded further and has now clearly accelerated in Switzerland. In this new change of pace, LUKB has acted as the prime mover.

From my point of view, Switzerland has adopted the system so quickly because of the following reasons:

1. EBICS uses the internet as a mode of communication which, in principle, is available at every company, meaning lower transfer costs for businesses. Moreover, EBICS products can be acquired in a relatively large market, which again offers a better price/performance ratio. Continue reading