Request to Pay – the economy needs this standard

On 15 June 2021, the new European standard for electronic payment requests Request to Pay (RTP) transformed from a theoretical construct to a practical reality. On that day, the SEPA Request to Pay (SRTP) rulebook came into force. The Euro Banking Association (EBA) in particular had been working hard on the project. It is only understandable that the organisation also wanted to know whether there are many companies in the economy that want to use RTP in the near future. In September 2020, EBA launched a large-scale survey of companies across Europe with PPI as a partner. The results recently published under the title "Request to Pay: What Corporates Want" are not surprising in their tendency, but in their consistency. Almost 100 per cent of the companies are interested in using the standard. What is important for them above all is uniform usability throughout Europe. Not surprising – after all, 70 per cent of the companies surveyed also want to use RTP for cross-border payments.

The main part of the survey revolved around the companies' assessments of the use of RTP in the fields point of sale (POS), e-commerce, e-invoicing and recurring payments. Here, too, attitudes towards the standard were clearly positive across the board. In all the areas surveyed, over 80 per cent of participants could at least imagine using RTP. In the area of e-commerce, the quota was even over 90 per cent.

At the same time, the EBA and we wanted to know what could make RTP even more attractive for companies. The answers revealed a number of possible improvements. The main aspects are standardisation of procedures, offering value-added services, end-user acceptance, risk management and clear prospects for the future. 

The latter also includes the most frequent requests for additional features: quickly achieving a high market penetration, integration into standardised, fully automated processes that are, for example, embedded in ERP systems, as well as use in combination with instant payments or other payment guarantee options. Of course, no vendor wants to let a customer leave with the goods if they do not have the money yet. If, however, buyers had to wait until the corresponding amount was credited to the seller's account, the acceptance of RTP, especially at the point of sale, would probably be close to zero. In this case, it might be necessary to examine whether the notification of the accepted or instructed RTP can be designed as a legally binding payment guarantee.

The companies surveyed see an additional benefit in the possibility to include structured remittance information in the data record. This facilitates the allocation of incoming payments to specific transactions within a goods management system and is a prerequisite for fully digitalised, largely automated invoicing and payment processes. Furthermore, companies see RTP as a good opportunity for significantly more direct downstream communication between sellers and buyers of goods and services: for example, 43 per cent can imagine transferring warranty or return information with the data record.

In total, companies from 20 European countries took part in the survey, two thirds of which generate a turnover of 50 million euros or more. A download link to the free final report "Request to Pay: What Corporates Want" as well as further information on RTP can be found here:

Authors: Eric Waller, Anuschka Clasen

EBICS 3.0 in the home stretch

By 22 November this year at the latest, the time will have come. From that day on, German payment service providers are obliged to offer their corporate customers EBICS 3.0, to be precise EBICS 3.0.1, alongside the previous version 2.5. For Switzerland, SIX has also issued a recommendation for the support of EBICS 3.0 from November 2021, and in France, EBICS 3.0 can already be officially offered by financial service providers since January 2018.

The Deutsche Bundesbank has announced that it will switch completely to EBICS 3.0 from 22 November 2021 for a transitional period of one year. EBA CLEARING has a similar position regarding its EBICS services.

What does the EBICS changeover mean for all those involved in EBICS?

Financial institutions and financial service providers are preparing for November 2021. EBICS 3.0-capable systems are already in use in many cases. It is possible that EBICS 3.0 has merely not yet been activated.

For the transition period from EBICS 2.x to EBICS 3.0, the specified or agreed BTF and order type mappings must be stored on bank side and corporate customer side. They can be discontinued later if no order types or FileFormat parameters are specified for new EBICS business transactions in the future. 

All parties should consider the crypto life cycle (see crypto life cycle on for EBICS before migrating to EBICS 3.0. This includes minimum key lengths, key procedures, and TLS requirements that must be met. Due to the key procedures it defines, EBICS 2.3 will automatically expire on 22 November.

All this requires the latest EBICS software. Corporate customers should therefore arrange for an EBICS 3.0 update of their EBICS clients at an early stage so that they can react to the EBICS changeover of the financial institutions. In order to avoid a time-consuming reinitialisation, corresponding EBICS and key updates should already be completed on client side before the bank-side shutdown of key procedures and lengths as well as EBICS versions. The key updates may be required to migrate to EBICS 3.0.

Since the text-based customer protocol (order type PTK) is no longer specified for EBICS 3.0, financial institutions may no longer offer it for EBICS 3.0. If the customer protocol monitoring of corporate customers is still based on the PTK, an early changeover to the XML-based HAC is recommended for them.

Corporate customers can also look forward to a few new functions that EBICS 3.0 provides. These include the technical double submission check, the optional specification of the original file name when uploading and the EDS flag (EDS= electronic distributed signature), with which the corporate customer can directly control whether the submitted order should undergo the EDS process or be checked directly. 

Those are some of the relevant points that I would like to share with you to help you cross the finish line successfully. Ultimately, it is important to be prepared for the approaching EBICS changeover and to take the necessary precautions.

And what about you? Have you already started your final sprint to EBICS 3.0?

Author: Michael Lembcke