The great majority of cashless payments in Belgium are retail payments and these are processed by the CEC (Centre for Exchange and Clearing), set up back in 1974. The CEC is the Belgian automated interbank payment system for retail payments.
Changes to the procedure for exchange and clearing of payments
In March 2013, interbank exchange and clearing of Belgian payments will be adapted to the requirements of the supervisory authorities. The objective is to further improve the efficiency and effectiveness of risk management in payment and settlement systems.
From this date onwards, Belgian banks will only credit the beneficiaries' accounts after receiving the corresponding funds transferred by the originating bank. In practice, this means that the first entries of the day on beneficiaries' accounts will made according to an adapted schedule. It is therefore possible that the amounts will be booked a bit later than at the moment. This is nevertheless in full respect of all legal provisions concerning the execution and accounting of payments.
For further information, please contact your bank.
In 2011 the CEC processed an average of 4.9 million payments a day, representing a daily total of almost 3.5 billion euro. Credit transfers make up roughly half of the transactions.
The CEC is the central point for channelling transactions between the banks issuing the instructions and the banks receiving the payments. It organises the traffic in small (retail or low-value) cashless payments between households, businesses and public authorities.
CEC participants can exchange payment instructions day and night (24 hours a day, seven days a week) using electronic channels only. Any payment orders originally submitted on paper (cheques and credit transfers) are archived electronically by the remitting bank. This basic principle is known as non-submission or "truncation". In 1974 the CEC was the first in the world to introduce this principle.
The CEC handles the following payments: credit transfers (up to EUR 500,000), cheques (up to EUR 25,000,000), unpaid cheques, direct debits, unpaid direct debits and card payments (debit card, credit card and PROTON electronic purse). In volume they represent around 99.61 % of all interbank cashless payments in Belgium, but only 2% in value. The other interbank payment orders are exchanged via TARGET2-BE (a component of the European TARGET2), the payment system for large amounts).
Remitting members send their payment orders to the CEC grouped by type of payment. The CEC checks the syntax and content, sorts the transactions by recipient, and immediately makes the messages available to the receiving members. Remitting members can no longer revoke their messages once the order has been given to process them. During the CEC accounting day, credit institutions are able to consult their cash position at all times. Every type of payment has its own cut-off time, but the CEC effects a daily closure for all applications together at 15.00 hrs, after which a new accounting day begins.
The CEC is a net settlement system which transfers once a day, at around 15.15 hrs, a single multilateral net balance per member bank to the Eurosystem’s TARGET2 payment system, where the balance is then recorded on the accounts of the banks. Settlement therefore takes place on the same day (“same day settlement”) in the case of payments exchanged before 15.00 hrs.
The third generation of the CEC (CECIII) went into production in May 2005, and implemented state-of-the-art technologies in order to maintain the highest standards in regard to operating security and quality of service.
In 2008, the CEC began processing European credit transfers. The European payment instruments were developed for the purpose of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) which aims to create a single European market for payment services.
The CEC is a non-profit organisation presided over by the National Bank of Belgium. The Board of Directors is made up of representatives of the leading banks operating in Belgium, the Post Office and the Belgian Bankers' Association (FEBELFiN). CEC members include credit institutions established under both Belgian law and foreign law, the Post Office, the National Bank and ATOS Worldline. The CEC concluded a contract assigning responsibility for the management of its operations to the National Bank, which makes computers and staff available on its premises.
ARTICLES OF ASSOCIATION
The CEC articles of association stipulate that any credit institution operating in Belgium is eligible for membership of the CEC, subject to compliance with certain technical and legal criteria. Credit institutions may also opt for sub-member status and arrange to be represented by another bank which is a direct member. Roughly one fifth of the hundred or so banks active in Belgium, incorporated under either Belgian or foreign law, are direct members of the CEC.
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The Blue Book - Payment and Securities Settlement Systems in the European Union - is an official publication of the Eurosystem for the entire European System of Central Banks. It is a valuable source of information and it describes the major payment and securities settlement systems operating in the member states of the European Union.
The country chapters deal with the national payment and securities settlement infrastructure. They also provide an overview of institutional aspects and the major players involved, as well as containing extensive descriptions of the payment media used by non-banks, retail payment systems, interbank exchange and settlement systems and securities settlement systems.
The statistical annexes (the so-called Blue Book tables) contain country-specific data for the years 1997-2001, while the comparative tables covering all 15 countries.
The publication has been prepared in co-operation with the European Central Bank and the National Central Banks of the European Union.
The complete report can be consulted via the Blue Book web page on the ECB's website.
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