EBICS event in Luxembourg met with great interest

The EBICS standard is currently gaining ground in Europe. That’s why experts are also taking an interest in the financial centre, Luxembourg. Payment transaction experts from the field and IT departments of Luxembourg banks met there on 28th January 2015 to learn more about EBICS. They had been invited to the event, entitled “EBICS – A New Communication Protocol for Payment Activities”, by the Luxembourg banking association, ABBL.

The main subject was whether EBICS could be of interest to Luxembourg. The agenda was geared towards this question, with the following speakers taking part and these topics discussed:
  • Welcome, Serge Wagener, Banque et Caisse d’Epargne de l’Etat
  • EBICS at a Glance - Security, Use and Implementations, Hermann Fürstenau, PPI AG
  • EBICS - a chance to harmonise customer-to-bank communication standards for electronic banking in Europe, Axel Weiß, EBICS Chairman
  • EBICS Strategy of Deutsche Bank, Thomas Stosberg, Deutsche Bank
  • STEP2 and EBICS, Katja Heyder, EBA Clearing
EBICS was examined more closely as regards customer-bank and interbank communication, focusing particularly on secure data transfer with EBICS over the internet. The Luxembourg experts were also keen to learn more about the Distributed Electronic Signature and differences between the French and German EBICS versions.

The Luxembourg banking community was equally interested in the STEP2 access via EBICS to the European payment transfer hub because it allows costs cutting and back-up security. Each bank has to decide for itself how it can use STEP2 and EBICS. If, however, regulations should stipulate back-ups – which currently seems possible – EBICS is the best solution. For safety reasons, some banks are already operating two different infrastructures: SWIFT and EBICS. The complementary network topologies of EBICS and SWIFT are excellently suited for providing mutual back-up. But a main reason for using EBICS is also often costs.

A key motivation for the Luxembourg banks is, of course, that Germany and France have developed an EBICS standard together. And what is more, the EBICS standard is being further developed and promoted by a small, but efficient, EBICS community based in Brussels. Switzerland is currently taking its place in the EBICS community. Perhaps Luxembourg could then become the 4th member.
The idea of a “Global EBICS” is of strategic importance for some banks, and this was also borne out during discussions in Luxembourg. “Global EBICS” – or GBICS for short – goes hand-in-hand with a uniform ISO20022 format à la CGI (Common Global Implementation). CGI is the uniform format standard, and GBICS represents the transferral standard – worldwide! There was also great speculation as to whether there is a standard competing with EBICS: Is there a standard comparable to EBICS in the world, for example in Asia or America? The answer is a definite “no”. There seem to be, if any, just national standards and which are largely past their sell-by date. The outstanding technical and specialist capabilities of EBICS are undeniable. That’s why EBICS – or rather GBICS – really does have the potential to become a standard worldwide.

Michael Lembcke


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