Initial difficulties in onboarding Swiss EBICS customers

In earlier posts we reported that the spread of EBICS in Switzerland has already begun. The first credit institutions have since started to offer the multibank-capable standard, with others still in negotiations. The focus is now slowly shifting towards corporate clients, who would benefit from the new interfaces. More precisely, the focus is now on the EBICS software to be installed on the client's end.

The first survey at the beginning of this year in the Swiss software development community for the support of EBICS in their clients' products, was thoroughly positive. The majority of suppliers has already implemented EBICS as protocol and can maintain productive links with both of the large banks. In order to allow customers to easily switch to another interface, some software solutions offer the so-called EBICS profile in their installation programs for each institution. Before initialising the installation, the customer decides which bank they want to connect with and the program automatically verifies key connection and configuration parameters according to the institution (version, EU procedure, host name, certificate issuer, supported order types, URL etc.).

If the customer then wishes to connect to another bank which also offers EBICS, they often need a new software version which, in accordance with the procedures just mentioned, will include the configuration specific to the institution. The once customer-friendly setup at once becomes much more complex; who wants to update the entire system each time you connect to a new bank? At this point a configuration-based approach would be desirable, in which the customer can register for themselves the relevant EBICS parameters for the new connection.

If the developer still then charges release fees for these updates, one cannot help feeling that there is profit being made here at the customer's expense from a relatively trivial problem. It is now the role of the banks to provide an overview for all the available solutions and to ensure this information is included in the counselling of clients, when it deals with the question of which EBICS software would be the most suitable for connecting to a specific institution.

For Swiss developers who have not installed an EBICS protocol, here is a final tip: Configuring a new EBICS connection should not be rocket science if it is ensured from the beginning that, for example, the customers themselves will control the process using a dialog window. For the integration of the EBICS protocol, we make reference at this point to the PPI EBICS-kernel (see software modules on the PPI homepage), which provides the full range of EBICS functionality in the form of a software library.

Carsten Miehling
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