The SIC franc payment system

SIX Interbank Clearing operates with SIC one of the world's leading real-time gross settlement systems (RTGS) for the Swiss financial center. It provides the system participants with liquidity management and payment processing in real time. SIC is also directly connected to Continuous Linked Settlement (CLS), the worldwide clearing and settlement system for currency transactions.

The Swiss National Bank (SNB), as well as practically all Swiss and also numerous foreign financial instiutions are connected to the SIC system. SIC maintains a settlement account for each participant. That account is balanced daily with its corresponding sight deposit account at the SNB.

The payment orders submitted by the system participants are verified using electronic signatures. Data entry authorization is monitored with the help of master bank data. The payment order structure is also verified, and whether this particular payment order has been submitted before. After these verifications have been successfully completed, the ordering institution receives either a confirmation or an error message. Following the positive cover-funds verification, the payment is irrevocably and finally settled: the appropriate accounts of the involved institutions are either credited or debited. The credit advice is forwarded along with an electronic signature to the receiving institution who, in turn, electronically confirms receipt.

The SNB continually monitors the cover-funds status of the participant and will, if necessary, provide liquidity to individual institutions. Inconsistencies in settlement or problems with individual participants can be addressed by the SNB, the supervising authority for the SIC system.

Real-time processing

Since SIC is an online system, transactions can be both submitted to and received from SIC at any time. Incoming and outgoing payment orders are constantly monitored. The transactions are continually processed in real time – 24 hrs per day, according to the definitions of the SIC clearing day. This warrants that a financial institution can obtain current information about the status of their settlement account at any time.

The SIC clearing day

Within the parameters of the SIC clearing system a week is comprised of five days. A SIC clearing day lasts from approx. 6:30 pm of the previous day until 6:15 pm CET of the actual day and on weekends from Friday 6:30 pm until Monday 6:15 pm CET.

Weekend transactions receive the settlement date of the following Monday. SIC is shut down between Saturday 12:00 noon and Sunday 6:00 pm CET.

Covered transactions only

For each transaction, the system verifies with the appropriate settlement account whether the funds are sufficient to settle the payment. Transactions are only executed if the necessary funds are available. Otherwise the payment is routed to a waitfile and kept pending until sufficient funds have become available through incoming payments, credits or a liquidity supply.

Technical security

An interbank security system ensures that up to two million and more transmissions valued at more than CHF 300 billion daily are executed securely and confidentially between the institutions. The primary requirements and expectations that are met with its unique hardware and software combination are the following:

  • Messages must be transmitted unadulterated
  • The message sender must be evident
  • Sending and receiving of messages cannot be disputed
  • Messages must be protected from unauthorized eavesdropping

Communications infrastructure

The participating financial institutions are connected to the SIC system over Finance IPNet. The modern communications infrastructure is an IT network based on Internet protocol.