Security Levels

E-Banking Harmonization – Vision and Reality

As a standard for corporate-bank communication, EBICS is here to stay. From its origins in Germany, it was taken up by the French banking community, and more recently Switzerland and Austria. In the meantime, many multinational banking groups offer group-wide EBICS hubs as an entry point.

EBICS was designed as an open standard with an emphasis on security, high performance and flexibility to support multiple transaction types. As a result, corporates have for many years been able to access all their banks via one standard, secure channel. Banks also benefit from the cost-efficiencies of a channel which is an international standard and constantly maintained.

The Evolution of EBICS at a glance

Facts on the evolution of the EBICS standard
Standardization with EBICS 3.0: Unity with diversity

Standardization – overcoming the challenges

Harmonization is certainly positive, but there are hurdles to be overcome. Today, the original EBICS standard lives alongside a special “variant” for France, designed to allow easy migration from the French legacy standard. There are two main differences, both in key areas: the way in which the message contents are identified and the signature/authorization process.

EBICS 3.0 – One Harmonized Standard ?

The clearly stated aim of the EBICS 3.0 specification is to define a single, harmonized standard, bringing together the differences and incompatibilities in the current local “dialects”. The specification defines an overall framework, within which there is sufficient room to support national, official and indeed bilateral deviations. The related downside to this “unity with diversity” approach, is a new level of complexity which has to be understood and recognized by the many applications on the market supporting EBICS.

Perhaps the most significant change within EBICS 3.0 is the way in which transaction types are recognized and validated. The current – mutually incompatible – models used in the standard and the French variant has been replaced by a new overriding framework, using Business Transaction Formats (BTF). These provide a level of flexibility to support diverse formats by using additional parameters which are required for each transaction type. This means that the definition “owners” (the country banking bodies) have extensive freedom to design the information needed for these definitions. This versatility however introduces new levels of complexity and creates special challenges for applications used in the international environment at banks and corporates, because they must reliably support the BTF variants of all involved parties.

Alongside this are changes aimed at harmonizing the exchange authentication keys and personal signatures, by settling on the use of X.509 certificates. However, again there remain differences, for instance in how these are handled and the validity of the certificates. The consequence is that solution providers must ensure support for both options within the application.

Strengths of the EBICS standard

Provides a single standard for communication between customers and banks

Delivers a framework with the flexibility to be adapted to different scenarios

Ensures the highest security at all levels including a multi-tier signature concept

Enables all current and potential business types to be transported and validated by the same mechanism

Making the Right Choices

With EBICS 3.0, a standardized framework is now available with the flexibility for adaptation to multiple, varying requirements, but also new levels of complexity. In addition, EBICS 3.0 will only take its place in the market gradually, so cross-compatibility with the EBICS 2.5 version will remain essential for the coming years. For this reason, banks and corporates will need to be confident of working with an experienced and future-oriented partner with a considered and professional approach to mastering the challenges. As a pioneer and leading solution provider for EBICS solutions, Omikron is well-prepared to meet these challenges.

For full cross-border compliance, it is necessary to ensure ongoing compatibility between the different solutions on the market, across different countries. Omikron’s solutions are designed to meet these expectations and to be adapted easily to support any changes or additions to the underlying national specifications.

Successfully managing the migration to EBICS 3.0
Partner with experience for the use of EBICS 3.0

The EBICS 3.0 concept has successfully eliminated the formal differences of the previous version. The market participants must rely on an experienced and future-oriented partner who will master the challenges professionally.

Colin Smith | Key Account Manager | Omikron Systemhaus
Request White Paper EBICS 3.0 for E-Banking

White Paper: EBICS 3.0

Find out in our White Paper what distinguishes the harmonized EBICS 3.0 standard and how your e-banking can benefit from its advantages.