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Regulation of the Payment System

The legal and regulatory framework of the national payment system comprises the BCRA Charter and the Law on Financial Institutions; specific regulations on payment instruments, whereby the BCRA is legally empowered to act within the national payment system; and the regulations issued by the BCRA. In addition, "CIMPRA Newsletters" are applicable. They are agreements reached within the scope of the Interbank Commission on Means of Payment of the Argentine Republic (Comisión Interbancaria de Medios de Pago de la República Argentina, CIMPRA). This Commission is a forum where the different actors of the payment and settlement systems (BCRA, bank associations, banks, electronic clearing houses, etc.) analyze, plan, and monitor the evolution of means of payment. CIMPRA Newsletters are used as a persuasive tool or recommendation.

Legal and Regulatory Framework of the National Payment System

General legal powers of the BCRA over the National Payment System BCRA Charter (Law No. 24,144, as amended)
Law on Financial Institutions (Law No. 21,526, as amended)
Specific regulations on payment instruments, whereby the BCRA is legally empowered to act within the national system of payments Law on Checks (Law No. 24,452, as amended)
Law on Credit Cards (Law No. 25,065, as amended)
Decree on Bills of Exchange (Decree-Law No. 5,965/1963, as amended)
Regulations issued by the BCRA Communications A
Communications B
Communications C
Consolidated texts
Decisions adopted within the scope of CIMPRA CIMPRA Newsletters, which are applicable as a persuasive tool or recommendation

BCRA Charter and other laws

As regards the payment and settlement systems, the BCRA Charter sets out as follows:

Section 4 (g): “The Bank shall regulate, within its authority, all payment systems, clearing and settlement houses, money remittance entities, and cash-in-transit companies, and carry out any other action related to the financial and foreign exchange industries.”
Section 4 (j): “The Board regulates the creation and functioning of clearing houses for checks and other securities organized by financial institutions.”

In turn, under the Law on Financial Institutions (Law 21,526as amended; see consolidated text in full) the BCRA is vested with authority to regulate clearing houses and other institutions that may fulfill comparable functions concerning settlement and payments.

The Law on Checks (Law 24,452 , as amended; see consolidated text in full)provides for the characteristic features of any transfers of funds through checks, and regulates their operation as well as the rights of, and redress for, the parties involved. Under this law, the BCRA's regulations on clearing systems should set up a special regime for the storage and payment of checks, kinds of endorsement, as well as their clearing, acceptance, rejection, and accounting record along with any other relevant aspect.

In accordance with this law, the BCRA regulates checkbook specifications together with the conditions and requirements for operating a checking account on which a regular or deferred payment check can be drawn. In turn, the Bank makes decisions to ensure an effective service. In addition, this law empowers the BCRA to regulate the operation of electronic clearing systems for checks, other means of payment (electronic payments included), as well as negotiable instruments among others under agreements signed by financial institutions. It should be noted that the terms of these agreements may not affect the rights conferred by this law to account holders.

Finally, the Law on Credit Cards (Law 25,065 as amended; see consolidated text in full)) regulates different aspects of transactions on credit, purchase and debit card: purchase or hiring of goods, services or works; access to loans and cash advances; approval to defer or finance the payment of statements or else reject charges (by the date agreed) as provided for in each agreement; and payment to the providers of goods or services purchased or hired by the cardholder.

The BCRA’s regulations which are aimed at regulating the national system of payments comprise several communications and consolidated texts.

Comunications

Comunication A5775 A5775 implements Principles for Financial Market Infrastructures addressed to systemically important payment systems falling under the scope of the BCRA, and establishes a methodology for their determination and mechanisms of self-assessment and adequacy.

Comunication A3710 provides for an agreement to access the electronic means of payment (medios electrónicos de pago, MEP) system.

Comunication A2557 sets operating standards applicable to electronic clearing houses.

Comunication A2575 provides for the technical requirements that electronic clearing houses should meet for approval.

Comunication A2622 provides for the standards to set a single banking code (clave bancaria uniforme, CBU).

Comunication A2699 lays down additional technical requirements in terms of the Contingency Plan that electronic clearing houses should meet for approval.

Comunication A4247 sets out regulations on the guarantees that clearing members should lodge in order to manage the potential risks to which the settlement of cleared balances may be exposed.

Comunication A4575 sets forth the shortfall in delivery of checks and other clearable instruments.

Comunication A4596 provides for an agreement for the full truncation of checks and other clearable instruments.

Comunication A5130 establishes the operation of settlement checks.

Comunication A5160 implements an image storage process (reservoir of images).

Comunication A5372 lays down requirements for institutions whose users can manage corporate bonds through online banking.

Comunication A5447 requires institutions to implement the operation of certificates of deposit for investment (certificado de depósito para inversión, CEDIN).

Comunication A5622 deals with check truncation and transfer of images, and determines the minimum amount from which documents should be digitalized on a compulsory basis.

Comunication A5778 determines the amounts that may be transferred instantly through automated teller machines (ATMs) or online banking.

Consolidated Texts

"National Payment System - Electronic Means of Payment (MEP)" lays down operating requirements, functions, kinds of transactions, and contingency mechanisms. (Communications that were amended by, or else amended, this regulation: A5601).

“Characteristic Features of Payment Instruments Issued by Financial Institutions.”

“National Payment System - Operating Instructions - Checks” (communications that were amended by, or else amended, this regulation: A2559, A2723, A2795, A2819, A2857, A4281, A4356, A4410, A4411, A4596, A5053).

“National Payment System - Operating Instructions - Transfers” (communications that were amended by, or else amended, this regulation: A2559, A3014, A3101, A4357, A5113, A5194, A5195, A5196, A5302).

“National Payment System - Operating Instructions - Direct Debits” (communications that were amended by, or else amended, this regulation: A2559, A2623, A2723, A2795, A2819, A2857, A2881, A2994, A5054).

CIMPRA

CIMPRA is a forum where the different actors of the National System of Payments analyze, plan, and monitor the evolution of means of payment.

The BCRA, as part of CIMPRA, plays a catalytic role in making considerable progress in key areas for the development of a modern and more efficient system of payments.

CIMPRA's essential functions are as follows:

  • To conduct research works, to propose standards for the operation and clearing of instruments used as means of payment, and to oversee their compliance.
  • To consider the proposals or projects aimed at improving or developing innovation in means of payment within the relevant working committee.
  • To coordinate the proposals and projects on means of payment.
  • To release the findings of research works as well as the decisions adopted through appropriate communication channels.
  • To settle any dispute that may arise between two or more institutions taking part in the electronic clearing process.
  • To conduct any other activity or task related to the development/maintenance of means of payment.

In sum, CIMPRA deals with projects, proposals and inquiries on the National System of Payments from interested parties. Proposals are assigned, where necessary, to a working committee for consideration. Subsequently, the committee issues an opinion which, in turn, is submitted to the Board for approval. Decisions may be communicated by two means:

  • BCRA communications, to which institutions are bound.
  • CIMPRA Newsletters, which are meant to be a series of recommendations, setting guidelines or courses of action addressed to financial institutions.
CIMPRA's members:

CIMPRA's governing body is the Board of Directors, which is composed of Bank Associations, the BNA, the BCBA, and the BCRA (chair). Where the issues addressed call for technical advice, representatives from clearing houses and/or ATM networks are invited to participate. The Executive Secretariat coordinates all CIMPRA's activities by supporting the Board's activities, organizing the activities of specific working committees, keeping record of their conclusions and putting them forward for the Board's approval. In addition, the Executive Secretariat is in charge of obtaining any necessary power to act, execute agreements among other actions involving third parties, and to develop the most appropriate means for releasing the decisions adopted along with the conclusions reached.

There follows a list of the CIMPRA Newsletters that have been published to date:

Map of Parties Falling within and outside the Scope of the BCRA Regulations