Frequently asked questions
When are the conventional standards, schemes & formats being replaced in Swiss payment traffic?
The conventional standards, processes and formats are no longer supported for credit transfers since mid-2018.
Why is a harmonization to the ISO 20022 payment standard necessary?
The international ISO 20022 message standard is playing an increasingly important role in the electronic data exchange in the financial sector. The existing heterogeneous payment systems of the financial institutions can no longer cope with the increasing national and international regulatory requirements and the advancing digital transformation of business processes through pure organic further development. Alignment with the internationally proven standards is necessary and expedient for ensuring the sustainability and competitiveness of Swiss payment traffic. Particularly because it offers the Swiss financial center an opportunity to modernize, simplify and design the existing payment transaction processes – which currently consist of an array of different formats, procedures and slip types – more cost-efficiently.
Why is the present migration date appropriate?
SEPA sent a strong signal by switching over to ISO 20022 in 2014. ISO 20022 is also making headway outside Europe, in countries such as Japan and Australia. As a participant in this European payment area, the Swiss financial center is now carrying out the migration according to a coordinated schedule. The timely implementation of the joint plan is necessary to safeguard long-term competitiveness as well as to meet the increasing regulatory requirements. The harmonization of the Swiss payment traffic processes is being implemented with an internationally recognized standard and offers an ideal opportunity to reduce the current complexity and diversity and to eliminate redundancies – particularly in view of the fact that the operators, SIX Interbank Clearing and PostFinance, will replace their payment systems in any case in the course of modernization.
What are the greatest challenges regarding the migration?
On the one hand, in the transition phase, the payment instruments must function simultaneously according to both the old and new procedures, standards and formats. On the other hand, after the migration, the new infrastructures must provide availability and quality equal to the current ones.
Is Swiss payment traffic losing its independence and uniqueness with the harmonization initiative?
Independence is not lost with a convergence with the international standards (e.g. CHF). For example, the highly-efficient ISR process, with its very high STP rate, will continue to exist, though it will in the future meet regulatory requirements by delivering ordering party and recipient data.
How will Swiss private and corporate customers profit from the harmonization of Swiss payments?
The harmonization creates the basis for a continuous digital payment process. Once the migration is complete, standard interfaces, data entry, validation and higher STP rates will result in lower maintenance and investigation costs, and thus in even faster and more secure payment traffic in very high quality. Companies receive detailed status information or error messages in real time and immediately react with little effort. They can more precisely steer their cash management, reduce liquid funds and thereby decrease capital costs.
What are the advantages for the market participants?
Through the standardization of interfaces between the system operators, SIX Interbank Clearing and PostFinance, and the reduction of slip diversity, market participants will benefit from higher STP rates and lower operating and further development costs. In addition, synergies can be better achieved between national and international payment traffic. With the harmonization of payment traffic, the associated investments support the efficient fulfillment of existing and coming regulatory requirements as well as meeting the digital structural change that is ongoing in many business and societal areas.
How are decisions being made regarding the migration initiative in the Swiss financial center? When will all relevant framework conditions be known?
The decision-making body is the Board of Directors of SIX Interbank Clearing, which sets the definitive framework conditions – based on the decision-making foundations elaborated by the relevant working groups established in the financial center.
What would be the consequences for the Swiss financial center if the migration did not take place or was delayed?
The implementation of future regulatory requirements would have to be solved in a more expensive manner. For those customers that have already switched over to the ISO 20022 standard, the cost-intensive transition phase would be prolonged
Many customers use software for their accounting. How will the software manufacturers be involved in the migration?
Nearly 90% of corporate customers use standard software that can be updated with a single update. Software producers will be informed through the financial institutions’ customary communication channels.
What future is there for checks?
The use of checks is declining in Switzerland, while in countries such as Italy or France, they are still widely used.