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Digitization of payments: the QR invoice is coming!

Digitization of payments: the QR invoice is coming!

Today, between banks, other financial institutions and the Post, there are no less than 7 different payment slips which will soon be replaced by a single mean of payment: the QR invoice, intended to make payments easier and more flexible.

All you need is a smartphone, a player provided by financial institutions or online banking sites and applications to pay bills in a few clicks.


As of June 30, 2020, as part of the harmonization of payment traffic, the first QR invoices may be received or issued anywhere in Switzerland instead of the classic payment slips. The principle: a QR code on the "number" part of the invoice which contains all the information necessary for the transaction in order to facilitate digital processing. The invoice can be fully electronic and is structured so that all data is read and processed automatically.


This QR code includes: the document number, document date, customer reference, VAT number, VAT details, payment terms and may optionally contain billing information such as the subject of the payment or an order number (140 characters). It will trigger a payment via all the channels for placing bank orders, from telephone to counter (ERP, mobile banking, e-banking or The Post).

In order to clarify that it is a "Swiss QR Code" and not a classic QR code, a Swiss cross appears in the middle of it.

On the QR invoice, this QR code is accompanied by billing information that can be read with the naked eye.


What are the advantages of the QR invoice?

Billing available in Swiss francs or Euros, efficient payment processing and monitoring, a QR code for all payment methods and references, automated payment references from purchaser to recipient, better data quality (standardized information and more precise), the advantages of using the QR invoice should be beneficial for all. Let's take a closer look at how recipients and senders can leverage it.


For the sender:

  • Reduction of manual operations and simplified payment reconciliation;
  • Easier creation: no need to order pre-printed payment slips. QR invoices can be printed by the sender on white perforated paper so that the receipt slip section can be separated from that of the payment (certain characteristics need to be respected, therefore the use of a software will simplify the production of a QR invoice);
  • Electronic transmission of all settlement information;
  • References and communications can be added;
  • Fields such as amount or payer can be left blank (info is in the QR code);
  • The Swiss QR code may have its place on posters or other communication documents in order, for example, to collect donations easily;
  • The use of additional digital tools is simplified, for example for the automation of certain processes;
  • Until everything is in place, the BVR reference numbers can still be used and are located in the QR reference of the invoice.


For the recipient:

  • Simplified invoice processing;
  • Reduction of reading errors;
  • Automated accounting reconciliation thanks to the receipt of billing information integrated into the QR code;
  • Reconciliation of correct data using textual information;
  • Manual data entry is replaced by scanning the QR code;
  • Time saving.


With the growth of digital payment transactions, the number of people who pay their bills online is increasing, while the number of bills paid physically at the counter has decreased by more than a third over the past twelve years (source PostFinance). PostFinance states that this, added to the fact that regulatory requirements are constantly tightening, leads to ever higher costs and makes counter payment services loss-making. Thus, prices will increase for issuers of BVR from July 1, 2020, while payment of invoices by online banking or written payment order will be free.


What are the risks of the QR invoice?

Like any new technology, the QR invoice may face some risks that can be avoided with rigorous use.

The main risk is that the human eye cannot decipher the information contained in a QR code. Malicious individuals with fraudulent intentions could therefore potentially use it.

On the other hand, if an error occurs, what the QR code includes could differ from what can be read in the payment section of the invoice. The amount, the recipient or even the currency could be different.

In other cases, the QR invoice could contain malicious code, with for example, a link to a website that starts downloading a virus, a link that directs the user to a phishing site imitating the website of the bank, intended to steal account data, or JavaScript could be directly encoded in the QR code, allowing to hack the phone or the application.


Some tips to avoid them:

  • Observe the layout of the invoice and beware when it is suspicious. The standards set out in the official directives must be respected and the QR invoice must always contain a reception part and a payment part;
  • When you use an application, it decrypts and displays the data included in the QR code. Always check that this information corresponds to the payment part readable on the invoice;
  • Banking applications should in principle be designed so that scanning a QR code never redirects you to a website. But if you observe that the QR invoice does not only contain payment data and takes you elsewhere, caution is required.


As with all new systems, there are always a few malicious people who will try to take advantage and we have to inform you about the few risks that the QR invoice represents. However, using it represents far more opportunities and benefits. The information directly transmitted to the bank is of course encrypted. Applications such as the ones you usually use to read QR codes with your phone do not allow you to interpret these types of QR codes.


The digital future of payments in Switzerland

The QR invoice is an important element in the objective to digitize end-to-end financial processes in Switzerland. The QR invoice facilitates payment operations, while modernizing them and opening up the processes to new possibilities of automation. It is ideally designed to adapt and be compatible with new services. Software creators or banks will be able to rely on this new standard to develop additional products that will further streamline accounting and settlement processes.

With this in mind, Swiss banks are already developing new processes so that senders and electronic banks users can pay directly via the infrastructure called e-Bill which offers a fully digital payment experience. Already used by some individuals, e-Bill allows you to receive invoices directly in your ebanking and thus consult, check and pay from a single interface. By the end of the year, all banks should have adapted accordingly.



How can your business adapt to the QR invoice?

To be able to issue QR invoices, your financial institution must send you your QR reference (replacing the BVR reference) as well as a QR IBAN. Please note, this QR IBAN is different from the classic IBAN and does not replace it, it is intended for processing QR invoices. Misuse of the IBAN could lead to errors.

If your organization works with a software for the creditors and debtors processes, it is time to contact your partner to update your solutions or to request to adapt programs and materials. Your billing tool may be able to issue QR invoices as of July 1 and you may be able to pay QR invoices. Also, do not hesitate to contact your bank to find out about the new procedures or the related developments.

For Synergix customers who rely on our new generation firm for all of their accounting and administrative management, as you know, our processes are already largely digital and modern.