EBICS on the Iberian peninsula

In 2014, the majority of Portuguese banks opened an EBICS channel based on version 2.4.2 of the protocol. Only the T profile is really used at the moment, however many companies would like to use the personal signatures that foreshadow the operation of the TS profile in the short term.
At the moment, very few Spanish banks offer their business customers the option of managing their financial transactions by means of the EBICS protocol. However, demand is getting more and more significant, as demonstrated by the presence of several participants at an event organised in Madrid by the Spanish Association of Corporate Finance Officers and Treasurers (ASSET) on 20 January.

This can be explained by such factors as Spanish companies, just like other European companies, having an increased need to carry out transactions with banks located outside of the peninsula.
Within the framework of this event, headed by Gerardo de la Mata, Director of ASSET and responsible for the payments commission, various presentations allowed the spotlight to be placed on EBICS and to make it familiar to the companies, banks and editors present. To this end, the participants tackled various and complementary topics such as:
  • Axel Weiß, EBICS Chairman, detailed the development of EBICS, presented its main characteristics and benefits and went on to describe how EBICS SCRL functions.
  • Notably, Thomas Stosberg, Deutsche Bank, presented the reasons why EBICS was developed and the experience gained, as well as its future evolution as part of BTF[1].
  • The aim of my presentation was to describe in more detail certain subjects such as security and the use cases in France and Germany in the areas of both company/bank transactions and inter-bank transactions. I also highlighted the modalities of implementing EBICS as well as the migration progress in France.
The questions posed by the audience essentially dealt with a possible choice to operate between various exchange protocols currently used in Spain (Editran, Swift) and EBICS. The criteria of the choice seem rational.

Editran is admittedly a widely used protocol in Spain. However, it is only rarely, if at all, supported by banks and companies located outside Spain. It therefore does not respond to the requirements of companies and banks that need to carry out cross-border transactions.

These requirements thus need to be met by the use of one or more protocols that allow cross-border transactions. Depending on the context, as is already the case in France, for example, the use of EBICS and SWIFT is perfectly conceivable; EBICS can be used for communications with a growing number of banks located in various European countries, and SWIFT can be used with the others.
The costs of use also constitute an important deciding factor that could (should) encourage companies to optimise costs by using the most economical protocol.

One topic that also seems to have grabbed the attention of participants is the distributed electronic signature with EBICS, particularly on mobile devices, as is currently used in Germany (VEU). There is nothing surprising about that. What is more surprising is the fact that VEU is not really in operation in France.

A similar event will take place in Barcelona on 24 February and a number of participants have already confirmed their attendance. This is one more piece of evidence indicating that the financial industry demands a standardised, universal and efficient means of exchange, as is the case with EBICS.

[1] Business Transactions & Formats

Marc Dutech
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