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Looking back at the info event for banks

Harmonization of Swiss payments – a feat of strength for a digital Switzerland 

“Together or not at all” is how speakers summed up the well-attended information event on harmonizing Swiss payment standards for banks held on 31 August 2017 at SIX ConventionPoint.

Daniela Stehli from the Fachschule für Bankwirtschaft already made it clear in her welcome speech that harmonizing payment transactions will not be easy. She compared the task to a silent revolution. While in the foreground, payment transactions will be handled with the customary high level of quality, the essential building blocks of the entire system will be upgraded or replaced entirely in the background. 

No stone shall remain unturned. Boris Brunner from SIX Interbank Clearing shares this assessment: “The new digital payment processes and procedures will simplify workflows for everyone. But there is still plenty to do until we reach that point. Particularly for banks,” he emphasized in his speech. “They need not only migrate their internal systems to be compatible with the ISO 20022 standard, but must also motivate their corporate customers to take this step and support them in the process.” The migration to technical standards is both complex and abstract. This is why the QR-bill is getting a great deal of attention throughout the whole migration process. The benefits of the QR code can be described in just a few words and are as tangible as the paper bills they are replacing. “The crux of the matter,” explained Boris Brunner, “is that those who want to offer the advantages of the QR-bill to their customers must first migrate to ISO 20022.” All the information contained in the QR code can only be transported end-to-end with the structured message types in the XML data format. There is no room for the information required to meet the legal supervisory obligation in the DTA format. It would literally be left by the data roadside and would then have to be subsequently entered manually. “That makes it all the more important for banks to have their systems ready by the end of November 2017, and to actively and consistently support their customers to the end of June 2018,” encouraged Boris Brunner at the end of his presentation. “Those who are too late must anticipate manual intervention and delays for payments and messages.”

Raphael Bättig from Sage Switzerland joined the call to action made by the previous speakers. “There is no such thing as a migration. Each customer and therefore each project and discussion are different.” Raphael Bättig emphasized how important customer dialog is. The efficiency of the migration really depends on the individual customer’s situation and can only be evaluated as part of a constructive dialog. With such an approach, everything becomes possible, from routine software updates to complex migration projects that must be carried out across multiple departments. The dialog must be initiated early on. If everyone were to wait till the end, capacity bottlenecks could hinder a timely migration. Raphael Bättig further explained how important it is for banks, customers and software companies to work together; only in this way can all problems be identified and resolved on time.

A presentation by Patrick Graf of PostFinance rounded off the event. Their corporate customers are required to migrate their systems to ISO 20022 by the end of 2017. PostFinance is thus at an advanced stage with preparations for this significant event. “The path was not easy,” explained Patrick Graf with regard to his experiences. After a long preparation phase, PostFinance began to migrate its customers in stages at the beginning of 2016. “Large customers generally do not want a “Big Bang”; they prefer to spread things out over a longer period, making it time intensive.” It also was not very easy to make it clear to corporate customers just how urgent it was. “While we informed them intensively through all media and dialog channels, ultimately, we only got through to many customers with a registered letter.” PostFinance has taken a great deal of persuasive measures in recent years. “Customers who have already migrated tend to see the advantages,” according to Patrick Graf, who summed up his thoughts in his final statement: “Harmonization of Swiss payments – a feat of strength towards a digital Switzerland.”

Presentations at the Event of 31 August 2017:

in German

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