Payment systems are an essential piece
in the infrastructure of financial markets
- Finland is part of the Single Euro Payments Area SEPA. Its rules and standards are maintained by the European Payments Council (EPC).
- Finnish account numbers are in the IBAN format. Companies can choose between the Finnish creditor reference standard and the Global Structured Creditor Reference (RF Creditor Reference).
- Finnish banks have agreed on Additional Optional Services (AOS) and national practices for SEPA Credit Transfers. The banks use both international and domestic standards for invoicing and payments processing.
Finance Finland (FFI) is engaged in lobbying and cooperation in both domestic and international payment systems and payment services.
We promote the Finnish financial sector’s joint views in legislative projects, actively contribute to the EU-level development of standards and services, and participate in information society initiatives and actions, all the while ensuring and enhancing the functioning and security of domestic payments in cooperation with authorities, member organisations and other relevant parties.
Finnish account numbers, MFI identifiers and BICs
Finnish account numbers are in the IBAN format. The account number includes a monetary financial institution (MFI) identifier, which denotes which financial institution the account number belongs to. Finance Finland (FFI) grants new MFI identifiers and keeps a list of active MFI identifiers and Bank Identifier Codes (BIC):
- List of Finnish MFI identifiers and BICs (.pdf)
- List of Finnish MFI identifiers and BICs (.xlsx)
The list is updated whenever an identifier changes.
Domestic payments are transmitted as SEPA Credit Transfers
The payments are transmitted between banks through the SWIFT network via EBA Clearing and settled in TARGET2.
Finnish SEPA Credit Transfer AOS
Finnish banks have agreed on the following Additional Optional Services (AOS) and national practices for SEPA Credit Transfers:
- AOS1 Payment date
The date on which the payment was debited to the originator’s account is disclosed to the beneficiary.
- Scandinavian characters
- Payment of salaries and pensions as SEPA credit transfers
The additional optional services, national practices, and list of AOS banks are maintained by Finance Finland. Banks interested in joining the AOSs are asked to contact FFI by email to email@example.com
Banks operating in Finland offer various SEPA-related services listed here.
SEPA Instant Credit Transfer
The SEPA Instant Credit Transfer is being gradually implemented for fast credit transfers. The SEPA Instant Credit Transfer is available around the clock, every day of the year. It is transferred across SEPA, also across country borders, in ten seconds.
The general maximum amount for SEPA Instant Credit Transfer is €100,000 as of 1 July 2020, but banks operating in Finland have agreed on removing the upper limit for transfers within Finland.
Each bank decides on their own implementation timeline for SEPA Instant Credit Transfer. It will be offered in addition to standard credit transfers, not replacing them.
In Finland, the national POPS system is used in addition to SEPA for the time being. Urgent payments in the POPS system are completed within one hour during banking days.
ISO 20022 compliant payment material
The customer sends payment files to the bank according to the ISO 20022 message standard, usually via bank connection software. The ISO 20022 Payment Guide specifies Finnish SEPA AOS and business practices as they apply to customer-to-bank messages.
The customer’s account statement is available also in the ISO 20022 format. The Finnish SEPA AOS and business practices as they apply to ISO 20022 account reports are specified in the ISO 20022 Account Statement Guide and the ISO 20022 Transaction Reporting Guide. There is also an alternative for the ISO-based account statement: the national standard for electronic account statements and the list of incoming reference payments, which contains an itemized list of payments with a Finnish creditor reference that have been made on the invoicer’s account. In the Finnish accounting practice, an electronic account statement received from a bank is a valid receipt when combined with the invoice documents that remain with the originator.
Communication links between customer and bank
The communication link between customer and bank is typically formed using the secure Web Services interface designed by Finnish banks. The connection is secured with a public key certificate. The requirements of the customer–bank link are specified in the Web Services Security and Message Specification. The document is published and maintained by Nordea, OP Group and Danske Bank. Banks also publish their own separate bank-specific documents
Payment cards issued by banks are mostly debit cards linked to accounts. All the cards issued by banks are international SEPA-compliant cards – most commonly MasterCards or Visa cards – and have an embedded chip to improve security.
A company willing to accept card payments must first make a contract with either a bank or another acquiring service provider. Instructions for accepting card payments are given by service providers.
SEPA Direct Debit
SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) allows a creditor to collect the invoice amount from a debtor’s account through its bank in any SEPA country. Creditors can agree on the service with any SEPA bank that provides SDD creditor services. E-Invoicing is more commonly used in Finland instead of SEPA direct debits.
Banks have developed common services and standards to facilitate invoicing and payments processing at businesses. Many of the standards are international, some are only used in Finland.
International and Finnish reference
Finnish companies can choose between the Finnish creditor reference standard and the Global Structured Creditor Reference (RF Creditor Reference, ISO 11649) to identify the invoices they send to customers. With the creditor reference, the invoicer can monitor invoicing and match incoming payments automatically. The invoicer receives the remittance information in a transaction list that is, depending on the creditor reference used in the invoice, based on the Finnish standard or on the ISO20022. The sum total of payments is shown on the account and account statement.
RF Creditor Reference numbers are in Finland formed on the basis of the Finnish creditor reference. This means businesses can switch to using the global RF Creditor Reference at their own pace, because it can be stripped down to a Finnish creditor reference whenever a specific system of service requires it. For more information, see the Guidelines for the Implementation of the Global Structured Creditor Reference.
Finvoice is a generally used electronic invoicing format published by Finnish banks. The Finvoice forwarding service is built around the Finvoice message format. The buyer receives the invoice in electronic format, and transfers the information to its own accounting systems. Each invoice can be directly matched with its order on the basis of its reference. E-invoice data can be transmitted using bank connection software, similarly to payment materials, or through e-invoice operators who provide forwarding services. The Finvoice format also supports consumer invoicing. It includes an online banking link, through which the consumer can examine the attachments (e.g. itemisation) of the e-invoice. See the Finvoice section for more detailed information.
A company that sends e-invoices can also offer direct payment service to its customers. Direct payment is a service designed to enable recurring payments for consumers who do not use online banking services. The consumer gives a direct payment mandate to the bank, and the bank executes the payment on the due date of the invoice. The invoicer mails the payer an invoice that contains the direct payment details, and also includes a digital copy of the invoice with the e-invoicing materials it sends to the bank.
Credit transfer form
Including a standard credit transfer form with the paper invoice facilitates payment. The payer can find all the necessary information quickly on the form. Credit transfer forms can also be scanned and read optically.
Barcode and QR code
Companies that use creditor reference in their invoicing can print a bank bar code on the credit transfer form. The bar code always includes the beneficiary’s account number and creditor reference, while some also contain the payable amount and due date. There are two bar code versions in use: one with the IBAN, and another with both IBAN and RF creditor reference.
The Quick Response (QR) code was added to the credit transfer form in 2014 based on EPC recommendation. It will gradually replace the bank bar code, but for now the two formats are in use side by side. The QR code can be used in invoicing regardless of whether the invoice contains a creditor reference or a plaintext message.
Online payment is a safe electronic service for companies that sell products or services over the Internet. After a customer has finished shopping online, they can select online payment as the payment method. Without interrupting the session, the customer is then transferred to their own bank’s online service, where they can make the payment from their own account. The payment uses the same security solutions as online banking. The originator’s banking details are not displayed to the seller, and no third parties have reading or modifying access to the transmitted data. The seller’s details are also verified with a specific security code. The seller must form an online payment contract separately with each bank. Implementation of the service requires that the company is capable of generating the online payment data and an electronic invoice for the customer.
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