I must admit, i haven’t worked with EBICS at all and in recent days have been on a mission to find out as much as possible about the EBICS connectivity method. In this post i share some of the things i learnt about EBICS.
1. What is EBICS?
EBICS is the Electronic Banking Internet Communication Standard, and is widely used in Germany and France. Essentially EBICS is a secure corporate to bank delivery channel that enables files (for example payment files) to be sent to and recieved (bank statements) from multiple banks. As such EBICS is an alternative to Host to Host (H2H), manual file uploads and SWIFT
For further information refer to the EBICS website
2. EBICS History
- 1995 – the German banking sector aimed to created a multi-bank payments transmission protocol, this was called BCS-FTAM – Banking Communication Standard (BCS) over File Transfer Access Management (FTAM)
- BCS-FTAM quickly became a standard and bank-agnostic solution in Germany
- As technology and communication standards evolved to open, IP-based channels so EBICS was born
- 2003 – Start of EBICS development
- 2005 – EBICS deployments start in Germany
- 2008 – EBICS is mandatory for banks in Germany
- 2008 – EBICS is adopted in Germany as a mandatory transmission protocol for all German financial institutions
- 2008 – The German banking sector represented by Zentraler Kreditausschuss (ZKA) and the French banking sector represented by Comité Français d’Organisation et de Normalisation Bancaires (CFONB) sign a joint agreement to adopt EBICS
- 2011 – French banks are required to complete their migration from the French Echanges TElématiques BAnques Client (ETEBAC) standard to EBICS
- 2015 – Switzerland joins EBICS
3. EBICS Benefits
EBICS is a solution that offers:
- A single, common and open standard for corporates to connect with ALL of their banks in France, Germany and Switzerland
- A global bank connectivity solution with some banks
- An underlying technology (XML, HTTPS, TLS) that is globally recognised and conforms to industry standards
- Secure messaging using electronic signatures and certificates and encryption
- A single portal for payments, direct debits and account statements
- Various file format support – including SEPA of course!
4. Which Countries Support EBICS?
Germany, France and Switzerland have adopted the EBICS standard.
But the bigger point here is that many banks supporting the EBICS standard in Germany, France and Switzerland also operate globally, and so you can start to leverage the EBICS solution internationally. For example, you could send the payment file (in ISO 20022 XML, of course) through the EBICS channel and have the bank route it through its internal network to the appropriate processing branch in Asia, Africa, North America, South America – wherever it needs to be processed.
You would work with the bank to implement a similar solution to receive bank statement information. Keep in mind that EBICS connectivity within a bank may be restricted outside of the EBICS countries (Germany, France & Switzerland), so you will need to check and partner with a bank that is able to support you.
5. How is EBICS setup?
The most important step here is to work with your bank to guide and support you with your EBICS implementation. The following is very high level, but it gives you an idea of the main steps. EBICS customers will need:
- An internet connection and an application/web-site running the EBICS software
- Bank to create an account that is EBICS enabled, with the correct permissions, payment types, authorisations/signatures and users configured
- Complete an EBICS initialisation process which will verify the EBICS software with the bank and activate your EBICS access
- Download the banks public key certificates, and customers will need to provide their public key certificates to the bank
6. What File Formats does EBICS Support
EBICS can support industry standard formats such as SWIFT MT messages (MT101 and MT940) and ISO20022 XML. But you should check with you partner bank if the particular format you’re working with is supported.
7. How Can i Send my Payment Files Through EBICS?
Once you have gone through the above mentioned setup, you can use the banks website to manually enter transactions or upload payment files and sign them within the banking software.
Alternatively, you can implement an automated solution that delivers the payment file from your ERP software through to the bank using some middleware technology components such as TIBCO.
8. EBICS versus SWIFT
This is the big question, eh? Of course, this entirely depends on your organisation and to help you get to the right solution, i would recommend reading Corporate to Bank Connectivity – 10 Questions YOU Need To Ask.
From reading around some recurring considerations include:
- EBICS compared with SWIFT is relatively quick and easy to implement
- If you have experience in this area, i would love to hear if this statement is true….
- EBICS is better for bulk payment files over individual payments
- SWIFT charges per transaction (FIN) or file (FileAct) – EBICS does not!
- Regional or even European banks operating outside of Europe may not support EBICS
- Some message requirements, particularly outside of the EBICS countries may not be supported
- Global reach through EBICS may be restricted
ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…. Still awake…? Does the above sound right to you? What have i missed? I would appreciate any feedback/corrections in the comments below.
- EBICS Blog - High-availability payment transactions with EBICS and SWIFT
- BL Banking – EBICS
- EPC – The History and Vision of EBICS
- TMI – EBICS – A Global Value Proposition
- Hanse-Orge Group - EBICS vs. SWIFT: Moving to a Europe-wide Communications Standard
- Bobs Guide - The Business-Logics EBICS modules for international suppliers
- E-Invoicing Platform – EBICS: The Standard for Corporate to Bank Communication?
- Commerzbank – Global Payment Plus
- LinkedIn - Understanding Banking Communication: The Three Communication Channels EBICS, Host-to-Host and SWIFT