Frequently asked questions
When can the QR-bill be used?
The date of introduction is 30 June 2020. From this date on:
- Interbank payment transactions are guaranteed
- Invoice issuers may dispatch QR-bills
- Invoice recipients must be able to pay QR-bills
The payment part the Swiss QR Code is replacing the currently used payment slips. Can, however, physical payment instructions be still submitted at banks or can payments still be made at post office counters?
Yes, this will still be possible. Receipts of payment confirmation will be available at a post office counter. The Swiss QR Code will, however, promote dissemination of electronic processes, i.e. they will become increasingly established.
The current forms of the payment slip will be replaced by the payment part with Swiss QR Code and thus disappear. Will it only be possible to invoice with QR-bills in the future?
Yes, after a transition period, which is yet to be defined, invoicing will only be possible with QR-bill and payments will only be possible using the payment part.
What is going to happen with the currently used blank payment slips?
PostFinance will offer an alternative solution for the neutral payment slips. Its functionality is currently being developed.
As of when can the current payment slips no longer be used?
The parallel use of the current red and orange payment slips and the payment part will be possible during a transition period. No end-date regarding use of the red and orange slips has yet been set by the Swiss financial center.
How is it being assured that companies will be involved on time and will be ready?
The financial institutions are supporting their customers during the migration and have worked closely together with the software industry for several years to ensure that updates will be available on time. Numerous ERP software vendors have already launched software modules and are actively committed to the timely and successful switchover.
Is one free to decide whether to use the orange and red payment slips or the QR-bill for invoicing?
After a parallel operation phase to be kept as brief as possible, the currently used orange and red payment slips will no longer be processed. As of this date, only QR-bill can be used for invoicing purposes.
Can the payment part and the receipt be freely shaped?
No, the "Swiss Implementation Guidelines QR-bill" are to be observed.
What utilization possibilities are available?
The following types can be used:
- QR-bill with QR IBAN and QR reference
- QR-bill with IBAN and creditor reference (ISO 11649)
- QR-bill with IBAN without reference
The difference lies in the use of IBAN and references.
Is a perforation possible on a QR-bill between the invoice and the payment part as well as between the payment part and the receipt?
Perforation of the payment part is mandatory if the QR-bill is to be printed out and mailed. Should the QR-bill with the payment part and receipt or the payment part with the receipt be prepared or electronically sent as a separate PDF document, the A6 format of the payment part and the receipt placed on the left-hand side is to be marked with lines. Moreover, on each line there has to be a scissors symbol or alternatively an instruction: “Separate before paying in” placed above the line (beyond the payment part).
Can the QR-bill be used for foreign payments?
Two cases must be distinguished here:
- Payments from Switzerland to other countries: This is only possible if the invoice issuer offers a bank account in Switzerland or Liechtenstein.
- Payments from abroad to Switzerland: We cannot influence whether banks abroad support the QR-bill. There may be corresponding offers for Swiss customers in regions close to the border.
Which currencies can be used?
Swiss francs and euro. The currency code CHF or EUR must be printed on the payment part beneath the Swiss QR Code and to the left of the amount field as well as in the receipt.
Can an invoice issuer who as a service provider (e.g. insurance company, health insurance scheme) sends a copy of the settlement to its insured person fill in the amount field with XXX?
No. The amount is always numeric with decimal separator and two decimal places. In this case: "0.00".
What values can be used in the "reference" field?
Permitted in the "Reference" field are the 27-digit QR reference (today the ISR reference number) or the up to 25-digit Creditor Reference according to the ISO 11649 standard. The QR-IBAN is used with the QR reference and the IBAN with the Creditor Reference.
How and where can messages be placed?
Unstructured information can be entered in the field provided for this purpose to indicate a payment purpose or for additional textual information.
A message can now also be entered if a reference number is used.
The information used there must be printed in block letters on the payment section to the right of the Swiss QR Code. Handwritten additions by the invoice recipient are not permitted.
Can additional elements like advertising be placed on the payment part?
No. Additional elements are permitted neither on the payment part nor on the reverse side.
In the case of a self-printed QR-bill, is there an obligation to examine and approve the payment part by a financial institution?
There is no obligation for the invoice issuer. The payment part will only be examined if this is explicitly requested by the invoice issuer or the financial institution.
The following tools are available to software developers and invoice issuers for self-control purposes:
- grid sheet in "Style Guide QR-bill"
- Validation platform
The Swiss QR Code printed in a faulty manner may lead to disruptions when processed. Such payment parts can be rejected.
How can the invoice issuer generate a payment part with no software solution? What can they use for this purpose?
It can be assumed that the free market will provide browser-based solutions. If this is not the case, the financial center will provide a simple solution for payment parts with Swiss QR Code free of charge.
What requirements must be met for the introduction of the payment part with Swiss QR Code?
- Migration of all the financial institution's payment traffic applications and their customers to the new ISO 20022 message standard according to the Swiss recommendations which contains the QR-bill
- Availability of suitable infrastructure for billers and payers, such as printers and scanners that can print and read QR codes.
- Provision of the channels for the payment traffic.
- Migration of electronic reportings to camt.
Is there any need for action when using accounts receivable systems?
- Check your accounts receivable master data today. If possible, make sure that the addresses are stored in a structured manner.
- Determine whether your invoicing solution supports the generation of QR-bill and plan the conversion time in the transition phase.
- Before changeover to QR-bill, make sure that your financial solution can process notifications with camt messages.
- If you use the ISR credit record type 3 for the electronic notification of incoming payments, you will automatically receive the camt.054 when converting to invoicing of QR-bills. If you do not use the ISR credit record type 3, please contact your bank consultant to obtain the camt.054 (or if required: camt.052/camt.053).
Generating payment parts
Where can I find samples of the payment parts?
In the introduction scripts you will find checklists, test cases and samples for the number parts of the QR calculation.
Can pre-printed QR-bills/payment sections be ordered from SIX?
No payment section can be ordered from SIX. To do so, please contact the house bank.
Can you recommend specific ERP software that I can use to create QR-bills/payment parts?
Since SIX does not evaluate software products and does not favor individual software providers for competitive reasons, there are no recommendations to this effect. However, on PaymentStandards.CH you will find a list of software partners who have published the readiness of their products.
What online offers do you recommend for generating QR-bills?
Since SIX does not evaluate offers from third parties and does not favor individual software providers for competitive reasons, there are no recommendations to this effect.
Where can I find out which ERP software is ready for QR-bill?
On PaymentStandards.CH you will find an overview of software providers who have published the readiness of their products. You will also find an Excel file in which the readiness of the different software versions is specified.
Printing of payment parts
How can the payment part of the QR-bill be used?
- As a component of the bill on paper
- As a paper enclosure to the bill
- As in integral component of an e-mail bill (PDF format)
Is there a measurement and design template for the payment part?
Must the amount and address data of the debtor be printed?
No. If information on the amount and debtor is not printed when the invoice is issued, colorless fields with corner marks must be included in both the payment part and the confirmation receipt to be completed in handwriting. You can find respective information in the “Swiss Implementation Guidelines QR-bill”.
Is it possible, as it is today, to use additional information, e.g. a payment purpose?
Additional information can be used in the notification procedure and in the structured reference procedure. Unstructured information can be used to indicate a payment purpose or for supplementary textual information on payments with a structured reference. Invoice information contains encoded information for the automated booking of a payment. The data is not forwarded with the payment.
Can handwritten additions be made to the payment part after it has been printed?
The name and address of the payer, along with the amount, can be added in handwriting if these fields are not given with regard to content. Otherwise, no handwritten additions are possible.
Can pre-printed payment parts still be ordered from banks, including PostFinance?
Depending on what the financial institution offers, you can order pre-printed payment parts with or without a reference.
Is there an obligation to test and approve the payment part by a financial institution?
- There is no obligation for the biller. The payment part will only be tested if the biller or the financial institution explicitly requests or requires this.
- An incorrectly printed Swiss QR Code can cause processing problems. Such payment parts can be rejected.
- A Web solution for validation of the correct content of the Swiss QR Code will be made available.
Why do the dimensions of the QR-bill payment part differ slightly from the masses of the current payment slips?
The dimensions of the payment part correspond to the DIN-A6 format (148*105 mm - width*height). This results in the mass 62*105 mm (width*height) for the receipt. These are documented in the Implementation Guidelines or in the Style Guide.
Since today's payment slips use the inch measure, they differ slightly. The actual payment slip measures approx. 150*106 mm (width*height), the receipt: 60*106 mm (width*height).
With the conversion to the nationally and internationally customary DIN format, there are no problems with the paper-based processing of the payment parts. Tests have shown this, for example scanning by banks and at the post office counter.
What is the purpose of the billing information?
The billing information can be used to automate accounts payable. In other words, as the invoice recipient, you receive information such as the invoicing issuer's VAT number or the VAT amount in a standardized and structured form that your accounting software can read in automatically.
Do I have to enter the billing information when I issue an invoice?
The use of this function is voluntary. Whether you have to enter billing information depends on what you have agreed with the invoice recipient.
What information does the billing information contain?
Each industry is basically free to decide which information from the invoice issuer to the bill recipient is useful. Up to now, only the syntax of Swico (trade association of the ICT and online industry) has been defined.
Paying payment parts
Can the payment part be used for paper-based payment instructions?
Yes, as is customary today with red and orange payment slips, in future, the payment part of the QR-bill can be enclosed with a payment instruction in paper form.
What is an "Alternative procedure"?
In the Swiss payment traffic, there are various methods for creating an invoice. The QR-bill is one of them, eBill is another. If the invoice issuer creates a QR-bill but the recipient would prefer to receive an eBill invoice, for example, a service provider (network partner) converts the QR-bill into an eBill invoice and then forwards it to the recipient. The information required for this conversion can be found in the "Alternative procedure" field.
Do I have to fill in the field "Alternative procedure" when I issue an invoice?
The use of this function is voluntary. Whether you have to enter an alternative procedure depends on what you have agreed with the invoice recipient or your network partner.
How can the payment part be used for online services?
With the payment information contained in the Swiss QR Code, payments can also be initiated in e- or m-banking, or alternative payment methods such as eBill or TWINT.
Can the QR-bill with payment part in PDF format be used at post office counters and postal agencies?
The payment part must be separated from the QR-bill. The payment part (without receipt) can then be used to pay at post office counters and at postal agencies.
Can the QR-bill with payment part in PDF format be used for paper-based payment instructions at the bank?
The payment part must be separated from the QR-bill. A credit transfer instruction on paper can be attached to the payment part.
Is there any need for action when using account payable systems?
- Payment parts with QR-IBAN and QR reference may not be paid as an ISR. Payment as an ISR can lead to a rejection or an incorrect credit at the creditor bank.
- Check your accounts payable master data today. If possible, make sure that the addresses are stored in a structured manner.
- Check whether your document scanner (reader) is affected by the introduction of the QR-bill. All data will now be read via the Swiss QR Code which can also be read with a smartphone.
Swiss QR Code as data carrier
What information is contained in the Swiss QR Code?
The QR code contains all relevant information about the creditor and debtor, amount, currency, etc. A complete listing can be found in the "Swiss Implementation Guidelines QR-bill".
How many lines (elements) does the Swiss QR Code contain?
The QR code always contains a minimum of 31 lines and a maximum of 34 lines (when using "Billing information" and 2x "Alternative procedure parameters").
For the last filled data element, the final line break (CR/LF or LF) is regularly omitted.
If a Swiss QR Code contains only payment information, the last filled element is always the "Trailer" element with the character string EPD in line 31.
Will people without technical skills be disadvantaged by the introduction of the Swiss QR Code?
No. As is the case today, it will be possible to enter payment instructions in e-/m-banking and to submit bills at the post office counter/postal agencies or as payment instructions at the bank.
Will the Swiss QR Code limit the use of current payment traffic channels?
No. All payment traffic channels can continue to be used. On the payment part, all the information therein will also be printed so that it can be read with the naked eye; i.e. without technical aids. In this way, payments can continue to be entered manually without the need for additional infrastructure, such as in e-/m-banking. The same information is also contained in the QR code. This enables payers to enter them automatically. In private households this will be primarily possible through the use of banking apps on smart phones. Some 78% of the Swiss population already own such an end device today. Payers with larger bill volumes will use a document reader or scanner that supports the QR code to enable this automation.
Is there a central library for generating a Swiss QR Code?
Every ERP software publisher and each bank has its preferred programming language on their preferred operating system. The financial center has decided against a central library because there are enough established open source or licensed libraries for generating QR codes on the market.
This simple code example in Java 1.7, which was created using the widely-used ZXing open source library, shows how a Swiss QR Code can be generated.
How do I integrate the Swiss cross in the Swiss QR Code?
To integrate the Swiss cross, you only need to overlay the QR code, centered, with the appropriate image – respecting the proper and length and width ratios.
This simple code example in Java 1.7 which was created using the widely used ZXing open source library, provides support for generating the Swiss QR Code.
In the Swiss QR Code, the character series CR + LF (0x0d + 0x0a) is used as as separator for the individual data elements. Can only the character CR (or LF) be used instead?
The character series CR + LF was specified to be able to ensure the maximum size of the QR code – regardless of the hardware platform or code library used. The use of CR or LF alone, however, is also possible, since it thereby does not result in a exceeding the maximum size of the Swiss QR Code.
May the element separator used (CR + LF / LF or CR) also be used within a data element (e.g. line return in "Additional information")?
No. The separator may only be delivered at the end, not within a data element.
Does the element separator used in the Swiss QR Code be considered in the maximum character count of an element?
No. The information pertaining to the maximum character count always relates to the net data without element separators.
Use of references
Which customer references can be used?
The following two reference types can be used for QR-bills with a structured reference:
- QR reference: Swiss standard for payment parts with reference. The QR reference corresponds in structure to the ISR reference (26 numeric characters followed by a check digit).
- Creditor Reference: International standard for payment parts with reference. Creditor Reference according to ISO 11649 standard. It can contain 5-25 characters.
What is a QR reference? Why does it have to be combined with a QR-IBAN?
The QR reference is a 1:1 replacement for the current ISR reference and thus facilitates the transition from the orange payment slip to the QR-bill. In order to prevent incorrect processing and manual post-processing work, it must be combined with the QR-IBAN.
What is the point and purpose of QR-IBAN?
Due to the regulatory requirements and the decision to use the creditor account in IBAN format on the QR-bill in Switzerland, a succession solution to the ISR participation number had to be designed. After examining several variants, it turned out that the high end-to-end automation rate can only be ensured in conjunction with a special IBAN, the QR-IBAN.
What is the QR-IBAN for?
If a QR reference is used, the QR-IBAN must also be used. Payment parts with QR-IBAN are recognized by a special identification of the institution (QR-IID) within the QR-IBAN. A QR-IID exclusively contains values in the range 30000–31999. The QR-IIDs are assigned by SIX Interbank Clearing. The assigned QR-IIDs are published by SIX Interbank Clearing in the bank master. Each legally independent financial institution participating in the procedure is assigned at least one QR-IID.
What is our QR-IID?
All financial institutions were informed by letter about their QR-IIDs. The QR-IIDs will be transferred to the productive Bank Master as of 30.06.20.
Can the current 6-digit identification number assigned by the banks be further used?
The 6-digit identification number in the reference as the key to the creditor account is no longer required. It is widely possible to use the 6-digit identification number for collecting and booking incoming payments. Please contact your financial institution.
Is the consistent processing of the reference number ensured?
Consistent processing of the reference number is only ensured for the QR reference. The Creditor Reference is processed continuously if it is entered by the payer.
As an invoice issuer, do I need to do something to use QR reference?
Yes, depending on your needs and business processes. Please contact your software partner and your financial institution so that the issuing of QR-bills can be ensured.
Will ISR credit files which a bank customer receives today to reconcile incoming payments also be replaced and, if so, by what means?
The data of a QR code can only be delivered in full with the ISO 20022 messages.
With the market launch, the ISR credit records (type 3 or 4) will be replaced or converted to camt messages. Once the orange payment slips are no longer used, the credit data will only be available as an ISO 20022 XML file camt.
Please contact your software partner and your financial institution so that you can receive the desired camt files and use them with your software solution.
Payments at the post office counter
Can the payment part of the QR-bill be used for payments at post office counters?
Yes, as is common today with red and orange payment slips, it will also be possible in future to make payments with the payment part at the post office counter at postal agencies or branches with partners.
Moreover, a confirmation receipt for payment confirmation purposes will continue to be availables.
What happens to the previous neutral payment slips?
PostFinance will offer an alternative for inpayments without QR-bill at a Swiss Post branch or at a branch with partner.
Is there a risk of patent infringement if the Swiss cross is affixed in the Swiss QR Code?
According to the patent research commissioned by SIX and conducted by a patent attorney’s office, Denso Wave’s patents relating solely to the QR code have no protected and registered rights in Switzerland to corresponding designs or illustrations for QR codes.
Furthermore, SIX has obtained an expert opinion on the question “Freedom to operate” from the Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI). The results of this research show that the patent portfolio of DENSO includes a number of patent documents revealing combinations of images and QR codes. From the researcher’s point of view, these are mainly overlays or framing of images, but none of the patents contain claims relating to the designs or illustrations. However, the results provided by the IPI do not include documents with the country code CH.
Based on the results so far, we assume that DENSO will not be able to prevent or take action against the overlapping of the QR code with the Swiss cross as prescribed in the IG QR-bill.
What is to be considered with regard to patent law?
With the involvement of specialists, SIX and the responsible project owners for the QR-bill for the Swiss financial center have jointly and duly examined the technical and legal framework conditions for the territory of Switzerland and provide corresponding descriptions for a standardized QR-bill (“standardization”). Subsequently, the following possible uses for invoicing or payment of a QR-bill have been assumed:
- Payer captures QR code with a reader or camera in e-banking/m-banking
- Payer captures QR code with a reader or scanner in their own infrastructure and transmits the payment order electronically (e.g. as a pain message)
- Payments at the post office counter (branches and branches with partners)
- Payment order form
Furthermore, applications of QR-bill, such as payments at ATMs, not included in the list are not part of standardization.
For the commercial technological implementation of standardization, commercial users are required to take the customary clarifications and precautions.
Third-party specifications and company-specific functionalities are not the subject of standardization. Clarifications in this regard lie within the responsibility of respective providers. This applies in particular to the possibility of embedding structural information or content in the “Alternative procedures” fields.
Is a contractual agreement (ISR/ISR bank participation declaration) necessary for the use of the QR-bill?
Depending on the financial institution’s offer, a declaration of participation may still be required.