Frequently asked questions
The QR-bill is replacing the currently used payment slips. Does that mean that physical payment instructions can no longer be submitted at banks or that payments cannot be made at post office counters?
No, it will continue to be possible to submit physical payment instructions via the bank or to make deposits at the 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 Swiss QR Code and thus disappear. Will you only be able to pay with QR-bills in the future?
All information needed for the payment will still be legible with the naked eye; i.e. without technical aids. And with the Swiss QR Code it will also be possible to pay bills in e-banking, at the post office counter or to submit physical payment instructions at the bank.
What is going to happen with the currently used blank payment slips?
PostFinance will also offer a solution with the QR-bill, which enables pay-ins to be made in the same way as with the blank payment slip. The solution is currently being drafted. The blank payment slip can be used until the parallel phase is completed.
The banks announced the QR code six years ago and published the measurement and design template in November 2015. Why is it necessary to make changes now?
The most important elements, such as the consistent use of the IBAN, the replacement of the encoding line with the QR code, and the reduction to a single solution, are being retained.
However, additional requirements upon the data content of the QR code were received from the market. The implementation of these market requirements has led to a situation in which the reserve planned to meet future requirements for the QR code has been used up. The data scope of the QR code must therefore be expanded to again create a reserve to meet future requirements. More data led to a need for more space, which required a new layout. We are convinced that the new specifications will be sustainable in the long term and that we will thus create added value for companies.
The banks are setting a fast pace. 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.
QR-bill with payment part
Is one free to decide whether to use the payment part of the QR-bill?
The Swiss financial center has decided to replace all versions of the currently used orange payment slip with reference numbers (ISR/ISR bank) and the red payment slip with message field (IS) with the payment part of the QR-bill. After a parallel operation phase, which shall be kept as brief as possible, the currently used orange and red payment slips will no longer be processed.
Can the QR-bill be freely designed?
Yes, for the payment part of the QR-bill the "Swiss Implementation Guidelines QR-bill" must be adhered to while doing so.
Is a perforation possible on a QR-bill between the bill and the payment part?
Perforation of the payment part is not required, but it is recommended.
Is there a measurement and design template for the payment part with QR code?
The specifications were relaxed in comparison with the current payment slips. The "Swiss Implementation Guidelines QR-bill" are to be adhered to in the process.
Which currencies can be used with the payment part of the QR-bill?
Swiss francs and euro can be used as currencies.
The currency code CHF or EUR must be printed on the payment part beneath the QR code and to the left of the amount field.
What values can be used in the "reference number" field?
Permitted in the "reference number" field is the 27-digit QR reference number (formerly the ISR reference number) or the up to 25-digit alphanumeric Creditor Reference according to the ISO 11649 standard.
How/Where can information about the payment purpose be provided? Or is that no longer planned for?
The "payment purpose" and "message" field headings currently used on the payment slips are being replaced by the "additional information" field in the QR code, which comprises up to 140 characters. The information used there must be printed on the payment part of the QR code in type.
Can advertising by placed on the payment part of the QR-bill?
No. Advertising is neither permitted on the payment part nor on the reverse side.
How can a biller without a software solution produce a payment part with QR code himself? What can he use to do so?
The financial center provides the following aids for this purpose:
- A simple browser-based solution for generating the payment part with a Swiss QR Code for individuals and companies that do not have a software solution (in the fourth quarter of 2018). The payment part may be printed either in A6 format or in A4 format (the payment part then at the bottom right), when based on a complete QR-bill (in the fourth quarter of 2018)
- Tool for calculating the IBANs is available at iban.ch
- Platform for the Swiss QR Code validation
What requirements must be met for the introduction of the payment part with 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
- Availability of suitable infrastructure for billers and payers, such as a printer and scanner that can print and read QR codes
- Provision of channels for payment traffic (e.g. e-banking and payments at post office counters)
Payment part of the QR-bill
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 an obligation to test and approve the payment part in A6 format by a financial institution?
- There is no obligation for the biller. The payment part with QR code will only be tested if the biller or the financial institution explicitly requests or requires this.
- An incorrectly printed 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.
Can the payment part with QR code 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.
How can the payment part with QR code be used for online services?
With the payment information contained in the QR code, payments can also be initiated in e- or m-banking, or alternative payment methods such as TWINT.
Can the payment part with QR code be used for cash pay-ins at post office counters?
Yes, as is customary today with red and orange payment slips, in future, the payment part of the QR-bill can also be used for payments at post office counters.
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".
Will people without technical skills be disadvantaged by the introduction of the QR code?
No. As is the case today, it will be possible to enter payment instructions in e-banking and to submit bills at the post office counter 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 with QR code, all the information relevant for payment 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-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.
Why is there a line return within the "Additional information” in the payment part “Information section" in example 1 in the Implementation Guidelines on page 31?
There are no binding specifications for the formatting in the "Information section". The rule that apply for the data structure of the QR code need not be considered here. Accordingly, due to restricted space on the payment part or in order to improve readability, it may be necessary to provide the printed text with additional line returns.
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.
Procedure with structured reference (ISR procedure)
Why is the identification for the procedure with structure reference being made with the QR-IBAN?
In the current procedure, identification for the ISR service takes place using the ISR participant number (ISR customer number for PostFinance). Identification by means of this participant number ensures, for example, that in e-banking a payer must also match the reference number when entering his payment. This leads to a higher level of automation at the creditor, because the received payment amount can be allocated to the corresponding open invoice by means of the reference number. Due to the anticipated regulatory requirements and the decision to exclusively use the IBAN format in Switzerland in the future, a successor structure to the ISR participant number had to be designed. After reviewing several options, it turned out that the high rate of automation can only be ensured using a special IBAN, the QR-IBAN.
Is straight-through processing of the reference number ensured?
Yes, the reference number (QR reference number or ISO Creditor Reference) will be transported end-to-end by the financial system.
As a biller, do I need to do something to use the procedure with structured reference or the orange payment slip with reference number?
Yes. Please contact your software partner and your financial institution so that the issuing of QR-bills can be ensured.
Will ISR credit files that a bank customer received to reconcile incoming payments also be replaced and, if so, with what?
Delivery of the data from a QR code can only take place completely with ISO 20022 messages. Therefore, with the introduction of the Swiss QR Code, the ISR credit records (type 3 or 4) will be replaced or converted to camt messages. Plans are underway to offer financial institutions solutions for the new formats by mid-2018.
Payments at the post office counter
Why is it not possible to discontinue payments at the post office counter?
The Federal Council has designated the following services in payment traffic as universal services (public service): paying in, paying out and credit transfers. Payments at the post office counter continue to be very popular and thus meet customer demand.
Can the payment part of the QR-bill be used for cash pay-ins at post office counters?
Yes. As is customary today with red and orange payment slips, in future, the payment part of the QR-bill can also be used for payments at post office counters.