Electronic Banking Internet Communication Standard

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The Electronic Banking Internet Communication Standard (short EBICS) is a transmission protocol for banking information for usage by banking clients.

The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) concentrates on standardisation of clearing protocols in the interbank networks. The SEPA-Clearing guidelines do not supplant any national clearing transmission protocols. Theoretically the national banking transmission standards could be prolonged for decades.

The German Zentraler Kreditausschuss (ZKA / Central Credit Committee) initiated a project to replace the national banking clearing system based on FTAM (short BCS-FTAM). The design goals were specifically set to create a transmission protocol that can be used by other countries as well - the initial "E" has been intentionally included to allow renaming the EBICS standard to read "European BICS" later on.

On 1 January 2006 the new EBICS transmission protocol was included in the German DFÜ-Abkommen (EDI-Agreement - enacted first on 15 March 1995). Since 1 January 2008 all German banks must support the EBICS transmission protocol and the required support for BCS-FTAM ends on 31 December 2010. It is expected that German banks will cease support for BCS-FTAM during 2011.

On 14 November 2008 a cooperation with the French "Comité Français d’Organisation et de Normalisation Bancaire" (CFONB - standardisation office in the banking sector of France) was pronounced such that EBICS would be adopted for usage in France. On 5 May 2009 a joint committee was created to resolve a modified EBICS. On 12 February 2010 a common EBICS for Germany and France was published (Version 2.4.2).

Most changes on the common EBICS involved to embed the French ETEBAC-3 message types and ETEBAC-5 signature elements into the EBICS transmission format where currently ETEBAC is transported via X.25 packet network lines (in Germany the BCS-FTAM protocol is using ISDN direct lines). French Telecom closed its X.25 network in November 2011.

The EBICS protocol is based on an IP network. It allows to use standard HTTP with TLS encryption (HTTPS) for transport of data elements. The routing data elements are encoded in XML and optionally signed and encrypted with X.509 PKI certificates (replacing older RSA keys). The EBICS transmission protocol can be used to wrap SEPA-XML statements as they come forward.

The standard does include two major areas - for usage in the bank-client transmission including statements of account (MT940/STA) and for interbanking clearing. The German Bundesbank has adopted the EBICS transmission protocol on 28 January 2009 to accept clearing information to be routed to the SWIFTnet interbanking network. The Bundesbank will only accept SEPA statements via SWIFTnet FileAct or EBICS submissions.

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