FAQs

  • Who is affected by the harmonization of payment transactions?

    The switch to new payment transaction processes affects all market players in the Swiss financial center. However, the extent of the impact varies considerably in individual cases. A financial institution, payment provider or international group with individually developed payment transaction software will be more significantly affected than an SME that processes its payment transactions via standard software. The end customer will not become aware of the harmonization until the introduction of the new inpayment slip with QR code.

    What changes are being made?

    Credit transfer schemes:

    According to the new credit transfer scheme, the IBAN is the sole identification feature and credit transfers must be transmitted in the ISO 20022 standard. The EPO.txt, SIC and DTA formats will disappear.

    Direct debits:

    The five existing direct debit schemes (Debit Direct, LSV+ and BDD in CHF and EUR as well as SEPA Core Direct Debit and SEPA B2B Direct Debit) will be harmonized. The CH-DD Direct Debit Scheme (Swiss Direct Debit) is strongly geared towards the processes currently used by PostFinance for national Debit Direct as well as towards those used by other Swiss banks (LSV+).

    What happens to the current inpayment slip?

    The current red and orange inpayment slips will be replaced by a QR code. This is suitable for all types of payment and above all takes increasing digitization into account.

    What are the advantages of the changes in payment transaction processes?

    Everyone will benefit from the national harmonization of payment transactions. Migration to the international standard ISO 20022 will allow the use of synergies along the entire value chain: more information, fewer processing, development and maintenance costs. Thanks to the uniform ISO standard, processes will be simplified, data quality and straight-through processing rates (STP) will be improved and error rates will be minimized. Slip diversity will also be a thing of the past thanks to the single inpayment slip.

    How will business and private customers benefit?

    Payment transactions will be easier, more efficient, faster and cheaper. Carrying out the modifications required also represents an opportunity for business customers to optimize their payment transaction processes with regard to integrated cash management. Professional working capital management makes it possible for medium-sized and large companies to reduce resources and capital employed while improving process efficiency.

    As a business customer, what do I need to do?

    Contact your software partner. If you use standard software, the switch to ISO 20022 will be carried out as part of a release update. If you work with an in-house development, a software developer will implement the ISO specifications on an individual basis.

    As a private customer, what do I need to do?

    As a user of payment transaction products, you do not need to do anything. If you use standard software, the switch to ISO 20022 will be carried out as part of a software update.

    As a private customer, can I continue to use payment transaction products?

    Yes. You will continue to have unlimited access to all payment transaction products.

    Is the harmonization of Swiss payment transactions a PostFinance project?

    No. The harmonization of Swiss payment transactions is a project undertaken by the Swiss financial center. The harmonization of payment transactions and alignment with Europe were decided on jointly by the main drivers behind Swiss payment transactions – the Swiss National Bank (SNB), PostFinance and other banks. The Swiss Implementation Guidelines and Business Rules were developed by a working group comprising expert representatives from various financial institutions. They are based on rulebooks compiled by the European Payments Council (EPC), in which Switzerland is also represented.

    What does the abbreviation SEPA stand for?

    SEPA stands for the Single Euro Payments Area. It currently comprises 34 countries. In addition to the 28 member states of the European Union, it includes the three European Economic Area countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) as well as non-EEA members (Switzerland, San Marino and Monaco). For the latter, there is a special situation whereby they are bound by the rules regarding SEPA, however not by the EU regulations or directives. They will not lose their independence (e.g. CHF) as a result of the harmonization, and the ISR scheme will continue to exist.

    What are the reasons for European harmonization?

    The standardization of payment transactions is an essential prerequisite for the creation of a Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). Firstly, the harmonization of schemes, standards and formats throughout Europe promises to make payment transactions simpler, faster and cheaper. Secondly, it aims to promote domestic economies and create greater transparency and competition in the banking industry.

    Why is it necessary to harmonize the procedures in Switzerland?

    The main aims of harmonizing Swiss payment transactions are as follows:

    • Harmonized schemes, standards and formats: as much alignment as possible with European standards
    • Eliminating redundancies as comprehensively as possible: details from PostFinance and from banks will have identical structures
    • Minimized development and maintenance costs: alignment of domestic and foreign transfer procedures
    • Reducing slip diversity: slip types with and without structured references will be combined
    • Including universal references with deliveries: automated processing thanks to universal references
    • Additional benefit through the integration of a QR code into the new inpayment slip: increase in straight-through-processing rates (STP rates)
    • Simpler implementation of future compliance requirements: flexible ISO 20022 standard simplifies technical adjustments

    Are there rulebooks for the harmonization of payment transactions in accordance with the Swiss standard?

    Yes. The rulebook is published on the SIX platform.

    What is the relationship between the European and Swiss rulebooks?

    The European Payments Council (EPC) has compiled various rulebooks which serve as a basis for the Swiss Implementation Guidelines and Business Rules. The Swiss rulebooks were developed in a working group comprising expert representatives from various financial institutions.

  • What is my IBAN?

    You can find the IBAN for your postal account on your account statements, in e-finance and on your PostFinance Card. You can also use the IBAN calculator available at www.postfinance.ch/iban for postal account numbers.

    What is the BIC of my principal bank?

    PostFinance’s BIC is POFICHBEXXX. When you need to make a payment, the creditor can send you the details of his or her bank (BIC).

    As of which date can the IBAN be used?

    As of 1 August 2014 the IBAN is obligatory for payments in euros when the recipient country is in Europe. If you use the new inpayment slip with QR code, the IBAN is mandatory. This will most likely be the case in 2020. Where possible, PostFinance recommends that you now use the IBAN for payment transactions.

    When will it no longer be necessary to specify the BIC?

    Since 1 August 2014 the IBAN has been obligatory within Europe and for transactions in euros. The BIC must also be specified for payments to Europe made in euros until the end of January 2016. This means that as of 1 February 2016 you can forgo the BIC for payments to Europe made in euros. Please note that the BIC is still obligatory for all other international payments.

    From when will the IBAN alone be used for payments from Switzerland to Europe made in euros?

    From 31 October 2016 the IBAN alone will be required for payments in euros from Switzerland to Europe. The relevant financial institution can identify the recipient by means of the IBAN.

    Can the IBAN also be used worldwide as an account number?

    Yes, as it is treated like any other account number. As well as the IBAN, details about the creditor’s financial institution are still required for international payments (e.g. the BIC). You can access the current IBAN country list via the following link.

  • What is the ISO 20022 standard?

    ISO 20022 is an international standard from financial service providers for the electronic exchange of data. This international standard defines a uniform data format, a standard language that can be understood by all market participants. It comprises a variety of XML message types that are used in different areas such as payment transactions. The standard features a high level of automation and rationalization during processing. In the long term the financial industry aims to implement an international standard.

    What are the benefits of ISO 20022?

    The fundamental advantages of ISO 20022 are simplicity, efficiency and increased data quality.

    Simple: one format

    • Automated and rationalized payment processes thanks to the use of a standard format in electronic payment transactions
    • Same format for both national and international payments simplifies the development, maintenance and servicing of your software

    Efficient: automated processing

    • Universal references supplied (e.g. end-to-end ID)
    • Standardized validation and standardized accounting and error codes for PostFinance and banks

    Practical: higher data quality

    • Simple XML validation: XSD schema defines the guidelines on how the XML can be validated
    • SIX central validation platform

    Comprehensive range

    • Complete range of ISO norms ranging from order delivery to order and account notification
    • For all delivery channels (accounts payable/receivable)
    • For all accounts payable order types (normal, priority, salary/pension, express, etc.)
    • Account statement with or without slip images

    Fast: short reaction time

    • Continuous delivery of accounts payable status reports (OK/NOK/warnings as pain.002 including camt.054), as long as the customer has defined the delivery format as ISO 20022 XML

    Significant: higher data quality

    • Specialist tests on the PostFinance customer test system, duplicate test at file and order level

    How can customers make use of the new service range?

    If a customer wants to use the new standard he or she must install software which supports the ISO 20022 standard. This means that the software needs to be modified accordingly. However, not all software manufacturers support all ISO messages. Customers can find out from the software manufacturer or retailer which ISO messages are supported by the software. They can also look up which messages are supported in the PostFinance factsheet for the respective software product.

    Where can I see which financial institutions support ISO 20022?

    PostFinance and SIX Services Ltd have compiled a joint list of the financial institutions that support ISO 20022.

    Which technical details on ISO 20022 does a business customer need to know?

    Business customers do not need to know the technical specifications, as these will be implemented by their software manufacturers/dealers or IT providers. They simply need to carry out the relevant software update. If a customer uses software developed in-house, the business rules can be found here:

    Can PostFinance already receive and deliver XML messages pursuant to ISO 20022?

    PostFinance supports all common ISO 20022 messages in the creditor and debtor area and for account notifications.
  • In future, will there also be other credit transfer types available in Switzerland in addition to SEPA credit transfers?

    Yes. SEPA procedures will apply only to “normal” customer payments. Interbank, system or particularly urgent payments, for example, will not need to be processed in a SEPA-compliant manner. Transactions with a special expense regime (BEN, OUR) are not SEPA payments.
  • What about credit advice with ISR and OSR?

    Credits (ISR/IS/ECA) and debits (OSR) will still be delivered via camt messages, as is the case for credit transfers. The PostFinance specifications have been available in the “Electronic account documents” manual since January 2015. Furthermore, the product-specific specifications (e.g. ISR and CH-DD) are set out in the new manuals. Following the introduction of the ISO product range and a two-year transitional phase, paper and PDF (ISR list) notifications will no longer be possible from 1 January 2018. This means that even for ISR, accounts receivable software or a web solution will be required in each case.

    Is it possible to order account statements in both MT940 and camt.053 formats?

    Yes, account statements can be simultaneously delivered in different channels and formats.
  • What about the current direct debit procedure?

    The five existing direct debit schemes (Debit Direct, LSV+ and BDD in francs and euros as well as SEPA Core Direct Debit and SEPA B2B Direct Debit) will be harmonized as far as possible. PostFinance is committed to harmonization and interoperability with other Swiss banks, including for the national direct debit scheme. The future direct debit scheme will use ISO 20022 message types in accordance with Swiss recommendations.

    As of when will the CH-DD Direct Debit scheme (Swiss Direct Debit) be available at PostFinance?

    The new CH-DD Direct Debit scheme (Swiss Direct Debit) can be used at PostFinance from the second quarter of 2016. As an established invoice issuer, the Debit Direct scheme is expected to remain available to you as normal until the end of 2017. Nevertheless, PostFinance recommends that you switch to the new CH-DD Direct Debit scheme when it becomes available.

    Will existing Debit Direct authorizations continue to apply?

    Yes, the current authorizations will continue to apply.

    Is the CH-DD Direct Debit scheme available with and without the right to object?

    The CH-DD Direct Debit service is available in two forms:

    • Core Direct Debit (Swiss COR1 Direct Debit) for the collection of receivables with the right to object and
    • B2B Direct Debit (Swiss B2B Direct Debit) for the collection of receivables from business customers without the right to object

    How can debtors register for the service with the invoice issuer?

    CH-DD Core Direct Debit:

    The invoice issuer provides the debtor with a payment authorization. The debtor returns the completed payment authorization to the invoice issuer.

    CH-DD B2B Direct Debit:

    The invoice issuer provides the debtor with a payment authorization. The debtor sends the completed payment authorization to PostFinance Ltd. Once PostFinance Ltd has approved the payment authorization, it is returned to the debtor. The debtor then sends it to the invoice issuer.

    Will there be a change to the objection deadline with the CH-DD Core Direct Debit (Swiss Direct Debit)?

    No. When using the Direct Debit system with the right to object, debtors can object to all debited receivables for a period of up to 30 days following notification of the charge (e.g. account statement).
  • Can customers use the formats pain.002, camt.052, camt.053 and camt.054?

    Yes, PostFinance offers these formats. However, ISO message types are currently only available as a response to an EPO in XML format. Account statements, on the other hand, can be requested in ISO format, regardless of whether the EPO is sent in TXT or XML format.

    Can PostFinance already deliver pain.002?

    Yes, PostFinance has already implemented pain.002 as a response to pain.001 (EPO in XML format). Further products will follow in the foreseeable future. For additional information, please refer to the EPO manual.