EBICS 3.0 with BTF clears the way

European payment transactions are converging thanks to SEPA and EBICS. With the help of EBICS 3.0, various EBICS dialects are now merging. The concept behind this process is called BTF. BTF stands for Business Transaction Format. BTF standardises the description of the formats to be transferred in Germany, France and Switzerland. This harmonisation clears the way for a growing EBICS community.

The new EBICS 3.0 specification is valid as of 27 November 2018. The launch dates can vary in the individual countries. EBICS 3.0 will bring about the following standardisations:

  • A standardised EBICS version in the individual three EBICS countries
  • A unified identification of the business processes and formats (BTF)
  • A standardised X.509 format for the key deposition
This is how the compatibility of the EBICS dialects will be guaranteed.

Optional features

Up to the present, not all of the EBICS features were offered in all of the countries, whereas now, with EBICS 3.0, banks can offer their clients all optional EBICS features individually.
These include:
  • Certificates
    CA-signed certificates
    Self-signed certificates
  • Model of authorisation
    German T, A, B and E authorisations
    French T and TS authorisations
    Elimination of the fax authorisation
  • Distributed electronic signature (VEU)
    The use of the VEU is mandatory in Germany but otherwise optional

The EBICS 3.0 specification includes innovations which have to be taken into account upon introduction.
  • Mapping
    The adjustment of format parameters and order types to BTF standards is simplified by assignment overviews (mappings). These mappings for order types and format parameters are defined on a national scale. The EBICS clients have to put these assignments into action. In the meantime, there might be some variances: bank A already supports BTF while bank B only offers EBICS 2.x.
  • Extended control
    With the aid of BTF, it is now possible for the EBICS client to control the bank server. Up to the present, the bank server exclusively controlled these processes, but with this client control a new chapter opens up. The EBICS user can decide if his assignment goes directly into the VEU or if the authorisation should be checked. The EBICS specification defines the action in case of any differences between the BFT specification and the rights on the bank server.
  • Standard protocol
    The strategic customer protocol in the EBICS 3.0 specification is the HAC. By that, the old text-based customer protocol PTK will be replaced entirely. The HAC protocol is machine-readable because it is based on XML. Throughout the transitional period, PTK and HAC will co-exist given a mix of EBICS versions. According to the EBICS 3.0 specification, BTF orders won’t be displayed in the old PTK anymore. Nonetheless, for all those who would still like that, the PTK format can be extended proprietarily.
EBICS 3.0 paves the way for a growing EBICS community

EBICS 3.0 Europeanises the use of EBICS. That’s a good development because this way, banks can win over new markets and clients. The user profits from this flexibility by gaining new possibilities. EBICS now uses established standards exclusively.

The existing interfaces and contract conditions can almost remain unchanged. The BTF can be configured in the background. As far as bank servers and EBICS clients are concerned, business standards are still a priority. This is supported by the EBICS 3.0 specification and the mapping defaults.

The introduction of EBICS to new markets and countries has been simplified enormously by EBICS 3.0. The advantages of EBICS 3.0 are obvious. Therefore, a near-term introduction in the existing EBICS countries is recommended.

Michael Lembcke