Providing information at each stage in the transaction process has become essential to enhance the customer experience and build confidence and trust.
Increasingly, treasury and finance professionals are expecting a comparable degree of integration, transparency and transformation in their banking transactions, whether they are buying or selling domestically or cross-border.
The next step in payment efficiency
The quest for payment and collection efficiency is nothing new. Many companies have already achieved a high degree of visibility, control and efficiency in their payments and collection processes. Not only is the use of electronic payment instruments and processes now prevalent, but treasurers and finance managers are successfully introducing automatic reconciliation and account posting, centralised flows through payments/collection factories, and efficient techniques such as payments-on-behalf-of (POBO) and collections-on-behalf-of (COBO). These solutions are allowing companies of all sizes and located in all jurisdictions to streamline and automate their payments and collections regionally or globally, and reduce the number of accounts that they operate.
For many companies operating internationally, however, the final missing element of the transaction process is the foreign exchange (FX) component.
Depending on the industry and business model, most companies will need to pay and/or receive cash in multiple currencies. As a result, they need to maintain accounts in different currencies, and are subject to FX risk. Treasurers can choose to manage FX risk separately in the FX market, but this option is typically only open to treasuries with the necessary systems and resources in place, and/or for currencies in which exposures are sizeable. In some cases, currency specific regulations will make it more difficult to hold centralised current accounts. For smaller currency exposures, and for smaller treasury functions, it is not cost- or risk-effective to manage these exposures separately. Consequently, treasurers are seeking integrated solutions that extend the payment and collection efficiencies they achieve for domestic transactions to cross-border and cross-currency transactions while managing FX risk.
Combining market leading capabilities
For BNP Paribas, as a market leader in both wholesale FX and transaction banking, combining these two capabilities was an obvious step by integrating the Global Markets transactional FX solution, FX+, into the payment and cash management solutions.
According to Wim Grosemans, BNP Paribas Cash Management Competence Centre: “We can now support clients’ international cross-currency payment and collection requirements by converting foreign currency flows automatically. Our cross-currency payment solution is already available to clients in 12 countries in Asia, 6 commercial centres in the Middle East and 14 countries in Europe, covering 132 currencies, with the rest of Europe and North America to follow during the course of the next two years.
By integrating the FX risk management into an outgoing or incoming payment, cross- currency payments reduce the administrative burden and cost of maintaining multiple foreign currency accounts and reduce the FX risks to which the company would otherwise be subject. Clients benefit from transparent, auditable, automated end-to-end transaction processing, from execution through to FX conversion and reconciliation.”
Cross-currency payments in practice
There is considerable demand for BNP Paribas’ cross-currency payments solutions from clients. These have ranged from large multinational companies (MNCs) building regional or global payment factories, which may include POBO, through to small and medium-sized companies.
Wim Grosemans:“When we first launched the BNPP cross-currency payments solution, we expected that the largest MNCs would have less need for integrated cross-currency payment and collection solutions than small or mid-sized companies or those lacking a sophisticated treasury function. We have found, however, that, as treasurers of MNCs are expert in quantifying risk, the cost of managing this in- house, and the value of integration and automation, they have shown considerable interest in the benefits of cross-currency payments. These clients have spanned sectors as diverse as shipping, manufacturing, travel and retail.
While the solution is equally applicable to collections, companies that have significant numbers of both payments and collections in a particular currency are likely to prefer a dedicated currency account to manage that currency. Cross-currency collections are ideally suited to companies that receive payments in a particular currency but have no offsetting liabilities in that currency, receive a small number or value of payments in a particular currency, or receive payments at unpredictable intervals or unexpectedly.”
Phase-out of CIRI files for payment orders
To modernise interbank standards, the CIRI format is no longer used for payment orders by BNP Paribas Fortis. All your euro bulk transfers must be sent to us in XML format. It is also recommended to use XML format for all your transfers in other currencies. Timing and impact. Read our FAQ.
1. What are CIRI files?
2 types :
- CIRI FBF: used for domestic payments in EUR.
- CIRI VME: can be used for EUR payments within the EU or for EUR payments worldwide or for payments in a foreign currency worldwide.
2. Which channels have been affected?
Upload of credit transfers via a CIRI FBF or CIRI VME file will no longer be possible in all bank channels (Easy Banking Business, Isabel, Connexis, Swiftnet File Act, Host to Host) offered by BNP Paribas Fortis.
3. When will it no longer be possible to upload credit transfers via a CIRI FBF or CIRI VME file?
Upload of credit transfers via a CIRI FBF or CIRI VME file will no longer be possible in all bank channels from 01/01/2020 onwards (Easy Banking Business, Isabel, Connexis, Swiftnet File Act, Host to Host) offered by BNP Paribas Fortis.
4. What will replace CIRI files?
The XML format is legally required for EUR payments within the EU.
Both the XML format and the Swift format MT101 can still be accepted for payments in foreign currency and for payments in EUR outside the EU. Note: Swift, in its turn, is studying the possibility of soon replacing its MT formats with XML formats. This is therefore not a forward-looking solution.
We refer to the XML Febelfin standards for both SEPA Credit Transfers in EUR and for payments in foreign currency and payments in EUR outside the EU.
5. How can you test your XML files?
BNP Paribas Fortis is giving you free access to XML Solver * to help your company in the transition to this new format. This online tool, developed by Azzana Consulting SPRL, makes it easy for you to check whether your payment files are in the correct format.
XML Solver allows you to test your files before you send them to us through the usual channel. In that way, you can rest assured that they are fully compatible with the XML format.
The tool is intuitive, easy and performs the necessary checks before processing.
6. How is XML Solver activated and used?
First of all, you must create a user account to use the application. You will then receive an e-mail with your activation code.
Once you have activated your account, you will gain access to XML Solver via the following link: http://be.sepaformatvalidation.com.
There you can immediately upload the XML files you want to check. After performing the checks, the application will always give you the following information:
- A detailed report of the errors found in the file
- Instructions to improve on these errors.
A detailed manual can also be found on the homepage of the tool. Use of XML Solver is free for BNP Paribas Fortis customers.
Need more information?Do you have questions about XML Solver or are you experiencing problems using it? Please do not hesitate to contact the Azzana helpdesk at firstname.lastname@example.org. For other questions, you can contact your Cash Management Officer at any time.
*XML Solver is a tool developed and managed exclusively by AZZANA Consulting SPRL. If you would like to use this service, you need to register directly with AZZANA Consulting SPRL. No BNP Paribas Group entity is responsible for XML Solver and its related services. Any questions in relation to the tool and its associated services must be sent directly to AZZANA Consulting SPRL.
Third quarter 2018 results BNP Paribas
Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, Chief Executive Officer BNP Paribas: “BNP Paribas delivered this quarter a good level of income, at 2.1 billion euros. The Group’s business continues to grow in a contrasted context of economic growth in Europe. Despite a still unfavourable market context in Europe, the revenues of the operating divisions increase slightly, driven by the specialised businesses.”
For more information, click here.
The FPS Economy tells you all about the Brexit
The impact of the Brexit on the business of companies is still uncertain. That is why the FPS Economy introduces an information portal, including a ‘Brexit Impact Scan’. This scan helps to map out the possible consequences of the Brexit on the activities of an enterprise.
Tax pre-payments even more important as of 2018
Bear in mind that companies that don’t pay enough of their tax in advance now face larger surcharges.
As of 2018 (for the tax year 2019), you will have to pay a higher surcharge if your corporation tax pre-payments aren’t large enough. Companies that didn’t previously pay much attention to pre-payments during the course of the tax year are strongly advised to do so in future. Nothing has changed for self-employed people subject to personal taxation.
From 2018 onwards, it’s particularly important to make your tax pre-payments
The surcharges imposed in the event of insufficient pre-payments have been calculated for years based on ECB interest rates. But this reference rate has been less than 1% in recent years, obliging the government to set higher surcharges by Royal Decree.
It was decided at the end of 2016 that a permanent solution was needed, and so new legislation was passed, which comes into effect as of the 2018 tax year (i.e. for all financial years commencing 1 January 2017).
Since then, the reference rate has been set at a minimum of 1%. Under the ‘Summer Agreement’ approved at the end of 2017, the rate was further increased to 3% in the case of corporation tax. The reference rates are multiplied by 2.25 to arrive at the final surcharge applied to the amount of tax payable. In specific terms, this means that as of the 2019 tax year (financial years commencing 1 January 2018), the surcharge imposed on non-payment or underpayment of advance corporation tax has tripled from 2.25% to 6.75% of the tax liability. The same applies for subsequent years, when the surcharge will be at least 6.75%.
The ‘Summer Agreement’ also scraps the so-called ‘de minimis’ rule in relation to corporation tax, which means the surcharge will also apply if it is less than 0.50% of the tax liability or less than EUR 50.
The government aims in this way to encourage more companies to make tax pre-payments (in good time) in periods of low interest rates.
The benefits of pre-payments
Companies are not obliged to make pre-payments. The advantage of doing so is that the surcharge described above can be reduced or avoided. Businesses do not, however, qualify for the kind of tax benefit available to private individuals, which means there is nothing to be gained by making an unnecessarily high pre-payment.
A cut-off date for the pre-payments is set for each quarter throughout the financial year. The earlier in the financial year that you make a pre-payment, the more any eventual surcharge is reduced. Due to the increase in the reference interest rate, these reductions have also been tripled.
In specific terms, a company whose financial year coincides with the calendar year and which...
- made a pre-payment before 10/04/2018 (first quarter), receives a 9% reduction
- made a pre-payment before 10/07/2018 (second quarter), receives a 7.5% reduction
- made a pre-payment before 10/10/2018 (third quarter), receives a 6% reduction
- makes a pre-payment before 20/12/2018 (fourth quarter), receives a 4.5% reduction
... calculated in each case on the amount of the pre-payment for that quarter.
The cut-off dates for companies whose financial year does not coincide with the calendar year fall on the tenth day of the fourth, seventh and tenth month and on the twentieth day of the final month of the financial year. Specific rules are provided for companies with a financial year of more or less than twelve months.
The new rules mean that a surcharge for the tax year 2019 can be avoided if 75% of the tax liability is paid during the first quarter or 90% of the tax liability is paid during the second quarter. If pre-payments are only made in the third and/or fourth quarter, more than 100% of the tax liability must be paid to avoid an increase.
For self-employed people subject to personal taxation (such as a manager or company director), similar rules apply as for companies, although the rates have not been increased in this case (surcharge of 2.25%, reductions of 3%, 2.5%, 2% or 1.5%). The ‘de minimis’ rule also continues to apply and the calculation of the potential surcharge only differs by a few percentage points. What’s more, an additional tax benefit or rebate is granted in the case of personal taxation on pre-payments that exceed the amount required to avoid a tax surcharge. This benefit is calculated quarterly at half the percentages set out above.
How much tax is it best to pre-pay?
- You are free to choose the amount. But you should bear in mind that if you wait until the third or fourth quarter, you will have to pay over 100% of the tax liability in advance.
- Check your income from the previous financial year and take account of any changes in your business activities, investments or turnover. Be sure to consult your accountant or visit the official government website (FR/NL).
- Try as much as possible – especially in the case of corporation tax – to limit your pre-payments to the amount needed to avoid the surcharge. If you make an excessively high pre-payment, you’re effectively providing the state with an interest-free loan.
- If you realise towards the end of the financial year that you have made more profit than anticipated, you can still make an extra pre-payment up to the twentieth day of the final month of the financial year.
- Also consider the special credit formula offered by the bank to cover your tax pre-payments. The interest on loans of this kind is tax-deductible as a business expense, although the main reason for choosing a solution like this is the improved cashflow management it provides.
More info L’Echo 14/08/2018 or De Tijd 14/08/2018)