The BCRA is in charge of organizing the payment system of the economy. This includes policies related to cash, its design, printing, distribution and destruction, as well as polices aimed at boosting other means of payment such as electronic payments.
The BCRA adopts measures to improve the usefulness and quality of banknotes and coins in circulation.
In 2016, the BCRA put into circulation banknotes of higher denomination to meet the demand of financial institutions and citizens properly.
Moreover, the BCRA developed a destruction plan for worn-out banknotes, in order to improve the quality of banknotes in circulation. Their removal from the system will allow reducing logistics-, security- and storage-related costs for the financial system, including the BCRA.
In order to improve efficiency in cash distribution and reduce governmental costs, in 2016, the BCRA promoted the creation of a market where financial institutions could offer their cash surplus or meet their demand for cash without the BCRA´s participation.
This mechanism is not only more efficient for the system as a whole but also implies significant savings for the BCRA as cash carrying charges are paid by financial institutions.
Promoting the use of electronic means of payment is a core idea to the current BCRA administration.
Broadening payment networks is key to the policies on financial inclusion.
The massive use of electronic means of payment seeks to prevent organized crime, drug trafficking and money laundering and to formalize the economy, which allows tax contributions to be better distributed and more moderate.
As from 2016, the BCRA has been adopting a large number of measures to further the use of electronic means of payment.
In 2016, the BCRA introduced a new means of payment: the DEBIN, which stands for instant debit. It entitles financial institutions and new participants in the industry of means of payment to debit funds from their clients´ bank accounts, prior authorization, for payment.
The DEBIN is a direct transfer payment tool which can also be used in computers and mobile phones.
In contrast to the other means of payment, the DEBIN is an instant online transfer initiated by the recipient. The transferor only has to accept it. For this purpose, the "DEBIN Payments" option in the menu on the online banking and mobile banking systems enables users to make payment requests and accept or reject the requests received.
DEBIN channels payments in pesos and dollars between accounts with equal currency. Unlike ordinary transfers, the counterparty does not have to be previously incorporated. You only need its account name (Alias CBU), without further data, such as DNI or CUIT. Recurring instant debits can be set for future requests from some accounts, specifying date and amount.
The BCRA appointed the low-value electronic clearing house COELSA— regulated by the monetary authority— as administrator of DEBIN transactions. This scheme seeks to ensure competition in the financial system.
For more information | Comunication A6099
An ECHEQ is a form of payment that can be drawn, endorsed, guaranteed, negotiated, placed in custody, assigned and deposited electronically. All banks must receive ECHEQs for deposit.
Drawing an ECHEQ involves knowing the tax-payer identification number (CUIT) or employee identification number (CUIL) of the beneficiary. ECHEQs can be deposited in current or savings accounts. They can either be accepted or returned until its maturity date.
ECHEQs involve three stages: issuance, management and deposit. Issuance and deposit are exclusively carried out by financial institutions, while management can be conducted by financial institutions and systemically important Financial Market Infrastructures (FMIs) authorized by the BCRA. A manager deals with notices, notifications, enquiries, giving back ECHEQs, endorsements, recording of guarantees, among others.
In the case of micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), an ECHEQ is an easy financing option as it speeds up the transfer, discount and negotiation processes.
ECHEQs are subject to the same regulations as paper checks, either conventional or deferred payment checks, to the extent that such regulations are not in conflict with those specific for ECHEQs. For more information, see the Consolidated Text on “Regulations on Bank Current Accounts“ and the Consolidated Text on the “National Payment System - Checks and Other Cleared Instruments“
Financial institutions, FMIs acting as managers or carrying out ECHEQs custody/registration tasks for exchange trading, and the electronic clearing house COELSA S.A.—as administrator of the storage system—executed an agreement that establishes their responsibilities in ECHEQ transactions. For more information, refer to Communication A 6727.
ECHEQ features and advantages:
How to Draw an ECHEQ
You only need to know the CUIT, CUIL or identity code (CDI) of the beneficiary, unlike transfers, for which a single banking code (CBU) or alias is required. An ECHEQ can be cancelled if it has not been accepted by the beneficiary; or if accepted, it can be requested back.
Only current account holders can draw ECHEQs.
How to Deposit an ECHEQ
Deposits are made through a platform made available by a financial institution. After accepting an ECHEQ, beneficiaries may deposit it in any of the financial institutions where they hold an account; the ECHEQ can be viewed on the platforms of all such institutions.
ECHEQs clearance time is the same as for paper checks: 48 hours.
I Have Received an ECHEQ. What Do I Have to Do?
You can either accept it or ignore it. If you accept it, you can place it in custody at a financial institution to handle the deposit on the payment date, or you can endorse it, discount it or negotiate it in a regulated market. You will soon be able to request guarantees directly to the guarantor.
What Shall I Do if an ECHEQ is Returned?
A returned ECHEQ can be given back upon request of any endorser in the endorsement chain, the guarantor or the drawer, in order to reach an agreement between the parties, that is, to negotiate the payment with any of the parties of the endorsement chain.
You can also assign the ECHEQ to a third party outside the chain by an “electronic assignment of rights”.
Ultimately, you can request a printed certification to file civil actions. Such certification is printed by the bank branch with a “view code”, which will allow its holder or rightful third party, and commercial courts to verify its truthfulness at the following web site.
Payment agreements between the parties must be carried out electronically, with the alternatives described above and prior to the printing of the CAC certification because afterwards, ECHEQs cannot be given back or electronically assigned.
How to Negotiate an ECHEQ
There is the “endorsed for negotiation” option in the platform made available by financial institutions or managers. By clicking on that option, the ECHEQ enters the exchange market through the FMI chosen. FMIs are authorized by both the BCRA and the National Securities Commission to provide ECHEQ recording/custodial services. From then on, ECHEQs have the same negotiation scheme as paper checks. ECHEQs imply a significant reduction of operating costs in the absence of physical delivery.
In 2016, the BCRA expanded the instant transfer system to include the following means:
1. Electronic Wallet | Transfers made through a mobile phone app.
2. Mobile POS | Transfers made through a card-reading device that is connected to a mobile phone.
3. Payment Button | Transfers made through a payment button used to make online payments.
Funds are immediately credited to the recipient’s account and can be used to purchase, pay, send and receive money in an easier, more practical and safer manner.
The BCRA seeks to make payment buttons more appealing to small shops and service providers so that they will be more willing to accept electronic means of payment, thereby broadening the acceptance network.
What is a CBU?
The CBU is a code that identifies a bank account as a sole account.
It consists of 22 digits. Each digit provides information on the account, type, number, bank and branch.
What is it for?
This code makes the management of accounts easier and boosts the use of electronic means of payment.
The CBU allows you:
- to transfer money
- to receive or make deposits
- to set up a debit for recurring payments of a service or tax
Where can I find it?
You can check your CBU at an ATM, through online banking or in person at your bank branch.
What is an Alias CBU?
The alias CBU is an alphanumeric code created by the BCRA and linked to a CBU, which streamlines transfers and other fund movements within the banking system. Both the CBU and the alias CBU have the same function, but the latter is a combination of letters and numbers between 6 and 20 characters.
The Alias CBU is:
- a single code for each account,
- unrepeatable across the whole financial system in Argentina
- portable, which means that a bank client may detach an alias from one of its accounts and link it to another one.
Like the CBU, you can check your Alias CBU through online banking, at an ATM, or in person at your bank branch.
What is a CVU?
It is a 22-digit number code that facilitates the interoperability between the clients of payment service providers (PSP) and other clients of the financial system.
As in the case of CBU, each CVU is single and consists of a combination of data. The first block (from digits 1 to 8) identifies the PSP and the second block(from digits 9 to 22) identifies the user.
What is it for?
The CVU identifies PSPs’ clients, such as providers of electronic wallets, prepaid cards, among others. The CVU streamlines interoperability and financial inclusion, as the PSPs’ clients with no bank accounts may make or receive electronic payments from bank accounts.
How can I obtain a CVU?
You can request the CVU to your PSP.
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The alias CVU is an alphanumeric code linked to a single CVU, which streamlines transfers and other fund movements among bank clients and PSP clients. Both the CVU and the alias CVU have the same function, but the latter is a combination of letters and numbers between 6 and 20 characters and, thus, it is easier to remember.
The BCRA launched the 3.0 Transfers initiative by the end of 2020 to promote open and universal digital payments, and achieve greater inclusion of those sectors that use no financial services.
Now, everybody can pay by reading any QR code with any electronic wallet or bank app on their phones in a quick and easy manner. Payments by transfer are more accessible, more efficient and safer, avoiding the use of cash.
All you need is an app or electronic wallet on your mobile phone. Payments by transfer can be made through bank accounts using a single banking code (CBU) and through payment service provider accounts using a single virtual code (CVU). No debit card is required.
This new open and universal ecosystem also boosts competition among the different players in the system, thus resulting in better conditions for users and stores.
Interoperability: Payments by transfer can be made through bank accounts using a CBU and through payment service provider accounts using a CVU. For this purpose, a Standardized Payment Interface (Interfaz Estandarizada de Pagos, IEP) was created, with an open architecture, that enables the interoperability of all accounts (sight accounts in financial institutions and payment accounts of non-bank payment service providers).
Instant Crediting: Stores will receive the funds instantly, either in bank accounts or payment accounts. Total immediacy of payments is guaranteed 24/7.
Payments are irrevocable.
Low-cost: Buyers do not pay any fees.
Stores incur lower costs as these payments have a fee between 6 and 8 per thousand (plus VAT), and lower financial costs due to immediacy. Moreover, they reduce the use of cash at stores, resulting in lower expenses and more security. Finally, they also expand the range of payment options.
Competition: It opens competition for the provision of payment services to retail businesses and neighborhood stores.
Flexibility: No associated debit card is required to make payments by transfer. Users can open a savings account online at a financial institution without having an associated debit card. Financial institutions must issue a card if the user requires it.
It is used to pay products and services. The debit card is linked to a bank account. Its main feature is that payment is instantly debited from the bank account.
Moreover, the debit card can also be used at ATMs to check balances, make transfers, withdrawals, pay services or credit the SUBE card.
Shops, companies, professionals and self-employed workers that carry out transactions with end-users must accept debit cards as means of payment. However, this obligation does not apply to shops located in districts with less than one thousand inhabitants and to transactions under one hundred pesos. (Executive Order No 933/18 / Law No. 27,253). ).
No additional amount can be charged on debit card payments.
For more information | Check Frequently Asked Questions on Debit Cards.
The credit card is a payment instrument managed by financial institutions or credit card issuing companies. Payments on credit cards can be made in installments.
It can be used to make purchases in shops or online. It can also be used to make cash withdrawals at ATMs.
Unlike debit cards, purchases require no previous deposit. This amount may be paid partially or in full. However, interest will be charged on any outstanding amount. To that effect, financial institutions issue credit card statements providing details of the transactions made, maturity dates and amounts owed.
For more information | Check Frequently Asked Questions on Credit Cards.
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Even though the caps on fees that credit or debit cards issuing banks may charge are set out in the Law on Credit Cards, the BCRA regulates the interchange rate on these payments, i.e., the portion of the fee that is allocated to each card issuing company.
A cap that is lower than that set out in the Law on Credit Cards allows a portion of the interchange rate to be allocated to the acquiring industry, which is in charge of broadening the payment network.
Therefore, it promotes greater competition and allows for greater development of this industry and, in turn, broadens payment networks along with the fast pace of technological innovation.
As from April 1, 2017, the BCRA set out the following maximum interchange rates:
|Tope tasa de intercambio débito||Tope tasa de intercambio crédito|
Maximum interchange rate on debit cards
Maximum interchange rate on credit cards
As from April 1, 2017
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The regulations of the BCRA set out the minimum amounts for instant transfers carried out by bank clients. However, banks may increase those limits at their will.
As from September 13, 2017, banks must temporarily increase transfer limits at the request of their clients—either in person or through authorized electronic channels—before the transfer is carried out.
This type of transfer must be carried out on working days, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.