AUSTRIA STERREICH

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					                          AUSTRIA ÖSTERREICH
Country Background
This section provides background information on the country, including key facts, recent economic performance, and
information on its government.


Key Facts
       Capital  other major cities                            Vienna  Graz, Linz, Salzburg, Innsbruck
       Area                                                    83,870 km2
       Languages                                               German
       Currency                                                EUR (Euro)
       Country telephone code                                  +43
       National / bank holidays                                2008 — 26 Oct; 1 Nov; 8, 25–26 Dec
                                                               2009 — 1, 6 Jan; 10, 13 Apr; 1, 21 May; 1, 11 Jun; 15 Aug; 26 Oct; 1 Nov;
                                                               8, 25–26 Dec
       Business / banking hours                                9:00–18:00 (Mon-Fri) / 08:00–15:00 (Mon–Wed, Fri), 08:00–17:00 (Thur)
       Stock exchange                                          Vienna Stock Exchange (Wiener Börse)
       Leading share index                                     Austrian Traded Index (ATX)
       Overall share index                                     Wiener Börse Index (WBI)
       Internet top-level domain                               .at


Economic Performance
                                                                      2002      2003      2004       2005       2006        2007
       Exchange rate – EUR/USD1                                     1.0626    0.8860    0.8054     0.8041     0.7973      0.7296
       Money market rate (Euribor 1m) (%)1                           3.306     2.346     2.081      2.143      2.940         4.08
       Consumer inflation (%)2                                          1.7       1.3       2.0        2.1        1.8         1.7
       Unemployment rate (%)3                                           4.2       4.3       4.8        5.2        4.8         4.6
       GDP volume growth (%)2                                           0.9       1.1       2.4        2.0        2.8         2.3
       GDP (EUR bn)4                                                 220.8     226.2     235.8      245.1      256.2       266.4
       GDP (USD bn)5                                                 207.8     255.3     292.8      304.8      321.3       365.1
       Population (mil)6                                               8.08      8.12      8.18       8.23       8.24        8.25
       GDP per capita (USD)                                         25,799    31,511    35,861     37,117     38,865      44,260
       Current account (% of GDP)7                                      0.3      -0.2       0.2        1.2        1.5         1.7
        1: Period average                                                                                          Sources: IMF, ECB
        2: Annual percentage change
        3: Harmonized definition ILO (International Labour Organization)
        4: GDP at market prices. Production-based approach.
        5: Per exchange rate
        6: End of period, recent figures may be IMF projections
        7: Trade balance of goods and services + net income + net transfers



Government
   » Legislature regime: federal parliamentary republic with a bicameral legislature (the Federal Assembly) composed
     of the Nationalrat and the Bundesrat.
         – Nationalrat (lower house): 183 members elected for four-year terms via proportional representation.
         – Bundesrat (upper house): 62 members indirectly elected by the each of nine states’ provisional assemblies
            (Langtage) for five- or six-year terms.
   » Political Leader: Alfred Gusenbauer, chancellor since 11 January 2007. Head of a grand coalition government
     formed between his Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) and the centre-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP).


Country Profile: Austria                                                       1                                Last Updated: September 2008
   » Elections: The last election was held on 1 October 2006. A legislative snap election for the National Council in
     Austria will be held on 28 September 2008. The upcoming election was caused by the withdrawal of ÖVP from
     the governing grand coalition on 7 July 2008.
   » Head of State: Heinz Fischer, president since 8 July 2004. Directly elected every six years. Mostly ceremonial
     role.
   » Member of the European Union: since 1995



Legal and Regulatory Issues

This section provides information on the country’s legal and regulatory issues, including legislation, resident and non-
resident status, account ownership, cash pooling regulations, account types and charges, FX controls, central bank
reporting requirements, anti-money laundering, and electronic transactions.


Legislation
   » Austrian financial market legislation is heavily influenced by EU Directives. As such the market for financial
       transactions is deregulated.


Re s i d e n t a n d N o n - r e s i d e n t S t a t u s
   » A resident company has its legally registered office or place of effective management located in Austria.

Account Ownership
   » Any type of account can be owned by a resident as well as a non-resident company.

C a s h P o o l i n g Re g u l a t i o n s
   » Balance of payments reports on liquidity management schemes must be submitted by the 15th of the following
       month using the Auslandskontenmeldung.


Account Types and Charges
   » Current accounts can be held in all exchangeable currencies and are offered with or without overdraft limits.
   » EUR accounts are convertible into foreign currency.
   » Interest rates can either be fixed using the bank’s basic rate or based on a market rate (e.g. Euribor) less a
       spread.
   » Account maintenance fees will normally apply but are negotiable.
   » Lifting fees are usually applied on transfers between resident and nonresident bank accounts. Larger companies
       are increasingly able to negotiate maximum fees. Some banks will apply item-based charges.
   » A flat fee will be charged for domestic as well as foreign payments.
   » In accordance with EU rules (Regulation 2560/2001) on cross-border payments in euro, payments/transfers with
     the EU and certain EFTA countries cost the same as their domestic equivalent.
         – EU standard transfers can only be undertaken exclusively in euro
         – The maximum amount of EUR 50,000 should not be exceeded
         – The payment must be credited to an account maintained in a EU state (or certain EFTA countries)
         – The IBAN and the BIC of the recipient must be correctly indicated
         – Transfer fees shall be divided between the sender and the recipient (each pays the fees incurred in her/his
           corresponding country).
         – Note: orders not fulfilling these requirements will be carried out as foreign transfers and charged
           accordingly.
   » IBAN has been implemented.




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FX Control
   » The Euro flows freely but the European Central Bank can intervene or coordinate an intervention with the other
       Central Banks in the euro area in order to stabilise the exchange rate.
   » There are no exchange controls.

C e n t r a l B a n k Re p o r t i n g ( C B R) Re q u i r e m e n t s
   » The Central Bank of Austria (OeNB) collects balance of payments statistics on cross-border transactions.
   » EU Regulation 2560/2001 eliminated systematic reporting for cross-border transfers below €12,500
   » Cross-border transactions from trade in services are reported on a quarterly basis (with
     information about the regional distribution of transactions) and annually (by type of service).
   » Companies are only required to report if their annual exports or imports of service exceed a
     value threshold (EUR 50,000 or 200,000, depending on the service).
   » Quarterly reports must be submitted to the OeNB by the 15th day of the following reporting
     quarter while annual reports must be submitted by 15 February of the following year.
   » In addition, resident accounts abroad must be reported on a monthly basis when their annual turnover of
       resident/non-resident transactions exceeds €2.5 million.
   » Furthermore, resident savings accounts held abroad should be reported at the end of the reporting year if their
       value exceeds €75,000.


Anti-Mone y Launde ring
   » Austria has implemented the EC Money Laundering Directive (Council Directive 91/308/EEC of 10 June 1991 as
       amended by directive 2001/97/EC of 4 December 2001).
   » The “Third Directive” replaces existing EU legislation and incorporates into EU law the June 2003 revision of the
       FATF-40 standards. EU Member States have agreed to implement the Directive by 2007.
   » According to the International Bar Association, the Third Directive has not yet been implemented in Austria. At the
       moment there are no drafts available.
   » As a Financial Action Task Force (FATF) member, Austria already observes most of the FATF-40 standards.
   » Money laundering and terrorism financing are criminalized by law in Austria. Additional regulations serve a
       preventative purpose.
   » If there is a suspicion of money laundering or terrorism financing, the Austrian "Geldwäschemeldestelle"
     (Financial Intelligence Unit)  set up in the Central Intelligence Service ("Bundeskriminalamt") and a member of
     The Egmont Group  has been has to be notified.
   » The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has issued a ‘Circular Letter on Identification’ to the financial industry
     highlighting international best practices and covers issues such as the identification of legal persons, the
     establishment of agency relationships (in particular with minors or in the case of trusteeship) and the appropriate
     procedure in the case of "non-face to face operations", securities transactions and savings deposits.
   » Know-your-customer serves as the supreme principle for banks, insurers and brokers of financial services.
     Money from anonymous individuals can not be accepted. Every customer’s formal identity has to be established,
     e.g. when
         – entering into a long-term business relationship with a financial institution (e.g. opening a bank account),
             and
         – conducting a transaction of at least €15.000 (e.g. making a payment to or withdraw from a savings
             account), if it is not part of a long-term business relationship.


Electronic Transactions
   » The basis for acknowledging electronic signatures under Austrian law was created by the Federal Electronic
       Signature Act (Signature Act, or SigG), BGBl I 1999/190.
   » Austria is therefore the first country to have fulfilled the implementation requirements set forth under Directive
       1999/93/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on a Community framework for electronic signatures.
   » Electronic signatures are accepted as legally binding.
   » Electronic invoicing is allowed.


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The Banking Environment
This section includes an overview of the banking market, market dominant banks and background information regarding
the central bank and it's tasks.


Overview
   » At year-end 2007, 870 banks and credit institutions operated in Austria with 4,286 branches offices, of which the
       overwhelming majority are Austrian owned savings banks.
   » In addition Austrian banks had 102 subsidiaries abroad, more than half of which are in the EU; and 105 branches
       abroad, of which nearly all are in the EU.
   » Furthermore, there were 28 foreign bank branches and 20 representative offices of foreign banks in Austria
   » Universal banking services are provided by Austrian commercial banks, which make no strict distinction between
       retail and corporate banking.
   » According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, in the coming years there will be increased pressure for further
       expansion of Austrian banking operations into eastern and south-eastern Europe.
   » The Basel II framework, based on EU directives adopted in June 2006 and numerous interpretation guidelines
       issued by the Committee of European Banking Supervisors, entered into force in 2007. However, the framework
       will not be adopted simultaneously in all banks, as individual banks may choose not to introduce the new rules
       until the beginning of 2008.


Market Dominant Banks
   » Market dominant banks in Austria are the four large clearing banks: Bank Austria Creditanstalt, Erste Bank,
       Raiffeisen Zentralbank Österreich (RZB) and BAWAG-PSK.
   » The first three have a significant presence across Central and Eastern Europe.
   » The largest Austrian-owned credit institution, Erste Bank der Oesterreichischen Sparkassen AG (Erste Bank),
       was created in 1997 by a merger between Erste Bank and GiroCredit Bank.
   » In 2000 Bank Austria Creditanstalt (BA-CA) and Germany’s HypoVereinsbank (HVB) merged. Then in 2005 HVB
     and Italy’s UniCredit Group merged. Bank Austria Creditanstalt is the clear market leader in Austria, measured by
     total assets, with 19% market share, and number two in Germany and Italy, with 5% and 11% market shares,
     respectively. In July 2007 BA-CA acquired the remaining portion of Vienna-based FactorBank from RZB (38%
     stake) and Oberbank (10%). FactorBank is the oldest factoring company in the Austrian market.
   » RZB has shown strong domestic results and executed a number of impressive cross-border acquisitions  OAO
     Impexbank in Russia and eBanka in the Czech Republic consolidated RZB’s leading position in central and
     eastern Europe  which ensure that it is will grow faster than the market singling out RZB, according to The
     Banker, as the best bank in Austria.
   » The major domestic cash management banks are Bank Austria Creditanstalt, Erste Bank and RZB Bank. In
     addition, all the major international cash management banks have a presence in Austria.


The Central Bank
   » The Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB) is the central bank of the Republic of Austria and, as such, an
       integral part of both the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) and the Eurosystem.
   » The OeNB contributes to monetary and economic policy decision making in Austria and in the euro area. In line
     with the Federal Act on the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (1984 Nationalbank Act – NBG), the OeNB is a stock
     corporation. Given its status as a central bank, it is, however, governed by a number of special provisions, as laid
     down in the Nationalbank Act. The OeNB’s capital totals EUR 12 million, 70% of which is held by the federal
     government and 30% of which is owned by employer and employee organizations as well as banks and
     insurance corporations.
   » Its main tasks are:
         – to a stability-oriented monetary policy within the Eurosystem;
         – to safeguard financial stability in Austria; and
         – to supply the general public and the business community in Austria with high-quality, i.e. counterfeit-proof,
            currency.

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   » In addition, the OeNB manages reserve assets, i.e. gold and foreign exchange holdings, with a view to backing
     the euro in times of crisis, draws up economic analyses, compiles statistical data, is active in international
     organizations and is responsible for payment systems oversight.
   » Furthermore, the OeNB operates a payment system for the euro, promotes knowledge and understanding among
     the general public and decision makers, and supports research in Austria.



Financial Authorities
This section includes supervision powers, key financial authorities and the country’s banking association.


Supervision
   » Supervision of the financial sector is exercised by the Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA), while the OeNB
       co-ordinates and analyses bank reporting on the FMA’s behalf.


Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA)
   » The Financial Market Authority (FMA) is an autonomous independent entity which operates in accordance with
       the Financial Market Supervision Act (FMABG) of 1 April 2002.
   » It is responsible for the supervision of credit institutions, insurance undertakings, pension funds, staff provision
     funds, investment funds, investment service providers, companies listed on the stock exchange as well as stock
     exchanges themselves.
   » The aims of the FMA are:
     – to contribute toward the stability of Austria as a financial market;
     – to reinforce confidence in the ability of the Austrian financial markets to function;
     – to protect in accordance with provisions of law investors, creditors and consumers; and
     – to put forth preventive efforts with respect to compliance with supervisory standards while consistently
        punishing any violations of these standards.


Austrian Bankers’ Association
   » Founded in 1946, the Austrian Bankers' Association is a non-profit organisation acting as representative of all
     commercial banks, private limited banking corporations and other credit institutions operating in Austria, which
     maintains and promotes its members’ common business interests and enhances the cooperation with economic
     and cultural institutions.
   » There are 64 full, 10 associate members, and 3 representative office members as of September 2008.



Clearing Systems

This section provides an overview of the different clearing systems in operation and includes information about each
system such as transaction types, operating hours and clearing cycle details.


Overview
   » Austria’s TARGET-linked RTGS system, ARTIS, ceased operations at the end of Friday 16 November to coincide
       with Austria’s migration to TARGET2, the pan-European RTGS system, on Monday 19 November 2007.
   » ARTIS has been replaced by a new system, HOAM.AT and the pan-European TARGET2 Single Shared Platform
       SSP) system.
   » Banks can transfer funds between TARGET2 SSP accounts or domestically between Oesterreichische
       Nationalbank (OeNB) accounts using HOAM.AT.
   » There is no centralised Austrian retail payments system. Retail payments are cleared bilaterally between banks
       and then settled via accounts held by the banks at either OeNB or the Postal Savings Bank. The co-operative


Country Profile: Austria                                       5                                  Last Updated: September 2008
     banks both have their own central payment clearing networks. Payments between two banks in either the
     Raiffeisen or Volksbanken networks are cleared via accounts at their respective central institutions.
   » Large companies usually maintain an account with the Postal Savings Bank (BAWAG-PSK) as well as with their
     cash management bank.


H i g h V a l u e C l e a r i n g  T A RG E T 2
   » The current pan-European RTGS system, TARGET, will migrate to a single shared platform (SSP) called
       TARGET2 making the 16 decentralised RTGS systems of individual Eurosystem countries and the ECB’s
       payment mechanism (EPM) obsolete.
   »   The changeover will take places in three migration waves, starting 19 November 2007 and ending 19 May 2008
       (15 September 2008 is reserved for contingency needs).
   »   Austria migrated on 19 November, 2007 along with Cyprus, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta and
       Slovenia.
   »   The Swedish Central Bank and the Bank of England will not migrate to TARGET2.
   »   Participation: options include direct and indirect participation, “addressable BICs” and “multi-addressee access” to
       the system, also known as “technical BIC access”. Direct participation criteria for TARGET2 is the same as for
       the current TARGET system. Only supervised credit institutions established within the EEA can become indirect
       participants.
   »   Transaction types: focus on large-value payments related to inter-bank operations
   »   Price indication: between €0.125 and €0.80 depending on type of participation.
   »   Operating hours: the operational day in TARGET2 will be longer than that of the current TARGET system.
       TARGET2 will start the new business day on the evening of the previous day. The night-time window will be
       available from 19:30 to 6:45 the next day, with a technical maintenance period of three hours between 22:00–
       01:00. Daytime hours for customer payments 07:00–17:00 CET with the day ending at 18:00 + 30 minutes for the
       use of standing facilities on the last day of a minimum reserve period.
   »   Transaction details:
           – Direct participantion: For the exchange of payments information, TARGET2 will use the SWIFTNet FIN
               service, while the SWIFTNet services “InterAct”,“Browse” and “FileAct” will be used for information and
               control services.


HOAM.AT
   » HOAM.AT, operated by OeNB, has replaced ARTIS as Austria’s RTGS system.
   » To enable large real-time cross-border payments to occur, HOAM.AT is linked to TARGET2.
   » Transaction types: all forms of high-value and urgent payments, both domestic and cross-border. Each payment
       order is given ‘low’, ‘standard’ or ‘urgent’ priority by its originator. All OeNB orders are of urgent priority.
   » Price indication: €0.50 per transaction with no periodic fee; €0.25 per transaction and €100 periodic fee per
       calendar month
   » Operating hours: same as TARGET2 for Interbank payments (see details below)
   » Clearing cycle details: settlement on same-day basis with immediate finality
           – Participants either access ARTIS via SWIFT or via the internet (eKonto).
           – All payment message are processed by SWIFT.
           – Cross-border customer payments are settled in real time between 07:00–17:00 CET while the cut-off time
             for domestic and interbank payments is 18:00 CET.


STEP2
   » OeNB is a direct participant in the Euro Banking Association’s STEP2 – a pan-European ACH for bulk payments.
   » In addition to EUR cross-border retail payments, banks can also send domestic retail payments to STEP2 via
       OeNB for clearing, although this method is limited.
   » Operating hours: access via the OeNB is available during the same hours as ARTIS above.
   » Clearing cycle details: settlement on same-day basis with immediate finality.
           – Payment messages accepted: SWIFT FileAct, SWIFT Fin, or via a dedicated line.




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Low Value Clearing
   » Low-value / non-urgent retail payments are processed on an automated basis by the licensed banks.
   » Net balances are settled via accounts held at the OeNB or the Postal Savings Bank (BAWAG-PSK).
   » Four large banks (Bank Austria Creditanstalt, Erste Bank, RZB Bank and BAWAG-PSK) act as clearers.
   » Final settlement is then effected bilaterally via the OeNB or BAWAG-PSK.
   » In the case of rural and industrial credit cooperatives (i.e. Raiffeisen and Volksbanken), balances with other
     banks are settled via their respective central institution.
   » The decentralised structure requires corporates to maintain accounts with BAWAG-PSK and a commercial bank.

STEP.AT
   » The OeNB decided to build on its participation in STEP2 with a component called STEP.AT that will also process
       domestic retail payments on an interbank basis.
   » STEP.AT processes SWIFT’s MT103, MT103+ and future SEPA formats, and specific Austrian EDIFACT
       messages.
   » All payments sent to STEP.AT are cleared and netted prior to final settlement in ARTIS.
   » A bank may use STEP.AT and not STEP2 (and vice versa) as the systems are economically independent.
   » Austrian banks will be invited to connect to STEP.AT at the end of the second quarter of 2007.



Payments, Collection Methods and Instruments

This section provides an overview of the payment methods employed in the country, including statistics and more
detailed qualitative information about such methods.


Overview
   » Cash is king in Austria, nevertheless cashless payments are steadily gaining more ground.
   » Electronic credit transfers are the predominant method of making payments by volume and value.
   » The most important payment card instrument to date is the debit card. In the last years, especially at the point of
       sale, debit card transactions increased considerably. The convenience of cashless payments, rising security
       needs and the fact that clients are more and more accustomed to payment cards fuel this trend.
   »   Austrian bank customers have the possibility the use overdraft facilities on their account. Therefore the
       importance of credit cards is significantly lower and rather limited to higher volume transactions.
   »   Banks in Austria have been implementing SEPA (Single Euro Payment Area) standards for EUR-denominated
       payments. The country’s banks now only issue SEPA-compliant debit cards (since 1 January 2008) and also now
       offer pan-European SEPA credit transfers (since 28 January 2008).
   »   SEPA direct debits however will not be available until 1 November 2009 at the earliest.
   »   It is not yet known how long the transition period will last for national payment products to be fully replaced by
       SEPA payments.
   »   However it is hoped the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), an initiative of the European Payments Council, will
       be fully operative by around 2013. It will consist of all EEA member states plus Switzerland. Final transition dates
       and a completion date are expected to be decided in mid- to late 2009.

                                     Transaction Volumes, mil.                   Transaction Values, EUR bn.
                                     2004       2005       2006    % change          2004       2005       2006   % change
       Card payments                233.0      263.1      289.4         0.10         14.4       16.2       18.5         0.14
       Card based e-money            19.4       22.1       24.3         0.10         0.13       0.14       0.15          0.7
       Credit transfers             892.0      933.0      907.0        -0.03      2,547.1    2,813.4    2,411.2        -0.14
       Direct debits                615.8      668.0      682.0         0.02        200.7      256.2      272.0         0.06
       Cheques                        5.9        6.0        6.0            -         16.4       13.4       14.4         0.07
       Other instruments              0.9        1.1        1.2          0.9         0.77        0.8        0.9         0.13


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       Total                      1,767.0     1,893.3   1,909.9       0.01         2,779.5        3,100.1        2,717.2             -0.12
                                                                       Note: Figures are rounded. Percentage change calculated from 2005-2006
                                                                                                       Sources: ECB Statistical Datawarehouse




Card Payments
   » The Austrian financial cards market, compared to markets in countries such as the UK, has not been overly
       competitive. This is set to change as the two dominant operating companies have extended their product ranges
       to include each other's card products. This suggests some interesting, and perhaps, turbulent times ahead for the
       Austrian financial cards market.
   »   Debit card usage is increasing but remains relatively low.
           – Seven million Austrians hold a Maestro debit card (bankcard, savings bank card), i.e. nearly every
               Austrian aged between 18 and 80. However, the share of debit cardholders who use their card on a
               regular basis (at least once a week) at points of sale has hovered within a range of 52% to 57% for quite
               some time (most recently 56%).
           – In the year 2006 Austrians carried out 226 million cashless transactions with debit cards for a cash volume
               of €11.2.
           – Furthermore a cash withdrawal volume of €13.1 billion was processed via the central service provider at
               First Data Austria, pure in-house transactions are not included in this figure.
           – Maestro is the leading debit card provider in Austria.
   »   Credit card usage has steadily increased in Austria.
           – Approximately 2.3 million credit card products of international card organisations like Visa, MasterCard,
               Diners and AMEX were in circulation in 2006.
           – MasterCard and VISA are the market leaders in Austria.
           – However debit cards are far more common, the proportion of debit to credit cards equals 3:1.
   »   “Quick” Austrian Electronic Purse
           – “Quick” is a chip based e-purse, issued as an additional debit card function or as account independent
               “Quick”-charge card.
           – On the market since 1996, every “Quick”-card is rechargeable and can be charged up to €400 at ATMs,
               charge-terminals (bank-account necessary) or in a bank (via cash payment).
           – The principal carrier medium of Quick is the Maestro cards (nearly 7.2 million at the end of 2006), other
               carrier mediums are bank service cards and the Quick prepaid cards.
           – In the end of 2006 there were 100,000 Quick payment terminals and 6,200 charging stations available. In
               the year 2006 there were 23.8 million e-purse transactions (vs. 1.2 million in 1998 and 5.1 million
               transactions in 2001) recorded. The value of the Quick payments amounted to €135 million.
           – Into 2008, Quick usage remains only marginally popular among Austrians. The share of users stands at
               only 10% of the total poulation. On average, users load €86 onto their Quick card. Most users indicated
               that they needed to reload their Quick card only once a month or even less often. Nonetheless, according
               to the most recent survey by the OeNB, the loading frequency was slightly higher than in the middle of
               2007.
   »   The share of users who pay by mobile phone has remained low, standing at 5% of the overall population. In
       Vienna, however, the ratio is twice as high.
   »   More than 90% of all Austrian payment cards use the Chip & Pin-code system for enhanced security.
   »   The Austrian ATM network comprised 7,539 ATMs in 2006.
   »   There are 87,500 point of sale terminals, which all accept e-money cards. Some 6,000 terminals exist for card
       (un)loading.
   »   Austria Card, a subsidiary of the OeNB, produces approximately 70 million smart cards annually. 75% of the
       cards produced are exported, primarily to Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and the Middle East.


Credit Transfers
   » The electronic credit transfer is the dominant payment instrument in Austria, in terms of both volume and value.
   » Electronic credit transfers have overtaken their paper-based equivalents in terms of both volume and value.

Direct Debits
   » Austria has two forms of direct debit:

Country Profile: Austria                                      8                                         Last Updated: September 2008
        – The pre-authorised payment mandate, where the payor authorises the bank (Abbuchungsauftrag), and
        – the non-pre-authorised debit transfer (Einzugsermächtigung/Lastschrifteinzug), based on an agreement
            between the payor and the payee.
   » The pre-authorised direct debit is easily the most common form of direct debit; however, the use of non-pre-
     authorised debits is increasing rapidly for business-to-business transactions.


Cheques
   » Cheque payments have decreased in volume over the last years due to the cost of cheque collection and the
       decline in their use for B2B transactions.



Electronic Banking
This section includes an overview of electronic banking in the country and information on EDIFACT, e-payments and e-
invoicing.


Overview
   » Electronic banking is widely available in Austria. Even though the web-based solutions are becoming increasingly
       advanced, major banks still maintain sophisticated services for corporates via PC-based tools.
   » Approximately 2 million private account holders use internet banking.
   » There is a national electronic banking standard — Multi Bank Standard (MBS), which allows customers to
     communicate with Austrian banks via a standard PC software user interface, using both uniform security and
     communications protocols.
         – MBS enables corporate users to manage both bank accounts and payment transactions. The services on
             offer include same-day reporting, end-of-day automated sweeping arrangements and transaction initiation.
         – Major banks offer electronic banking services via their proprietary MBS-compatible systems (e.g.
             BusinessLine, ELBA MBS, and Telebanking MBS).
   » Some banks use the MultiCash software to provide electronic banking services to their customers.
   » In addition, all major banks offer web-based Internet banking. Internet users have access to enhanced
     transaction and balance reporting, and the ability to effect some domestic and international transfers.
   » Both paybox (which is owned by ONE and mobiklom Austria) and MCommerce Interface Austria (which is
     supported by One, 3, T-Mobile Austria and telel.ring) provide mobile phone holders with the ability to effect
     payments using their phones.


EDIFACT / Host-to-Host Solutions
   » Host-to-host solutions are provided via EDIFACT for domestic payments throughout Austria.
   » STUZZA (Study Company for Cooperation in Payment Transfers) along with leading Austrian banks are
       implementing the XML communication standard for payment transfers.


E-payme nts
   » The eps e-payment standard is the interface (either HTML or XML) into online payment systems of Austrian
       Banks for irrevocable payments, adopted by Internet shops as well as public authorities like E-Government.
   » The ECBS ePI standard is an integral part of the eps interface in XML syntax: within this standard all relevant
       data elements for the payment request are specified.
   » An electronic signature backed by an electronic certificate is recognised as a valid way of transacting in Austria.

E-invoice / EBPP
   » Austria (eps e-payment standard), in conjunction with Finland’s (FINVOICE), is working on the implementation of
       national applications whereby the electronic payment request (i.e. electronic payment slip) is based on the ePI
       (electronic Payment Initiator) standard.


Country Profile: Austria                                      9                                  Last Updated: September 2008
   » In addition, EBPP GmbH, a joint venture by Bank Austria, RaiffeisenZentralbank and Erste Bank, offers electronic
       bill presentment and payment (EBPP) B2B and B2C services, e.g. the possibility to have utility and other bills
       sent electronically to customers which in turn can be paid online (also known as 'bill by click')



Cash Pooling Solutions

This section covers cash pooling solutions such as notional pooling, cash concentration, multicurrency, and cross border
pooling.


Notional Pooling
   » Domestic notional pooling is permitted and is offered by a number of both domestic and international banks.

Cash Concentration
   » Domestic cash concentration techniques are available and are offered by both domestic and international banks.
   » Cash concentration, both zero and target balancing, is the most common liquidity management technique in
       Austria.


Multicurrency and Cross Border Pooling
   » Cross-border sweeping is allowed and widely used by both domestic and international banks.
   » International companies do not usually select Austria as the location for centralised cross-border notional pool.
   » Cross-border cash concentration is permitted and is offered by both domestic and international banks. Austrian
       companies tend to participate in cross-border cash concentration structures based elsewhere, because the local
       regulations can be onerous compared to other jurisdictions.



Sources

The hyperlinks of various sources used throughout this country profile are provided below.

       Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Central Bank)                                                       www.oenb.at
       Finanzmarktaufsicht (Financial Market Authority)                                                 www.fma.gv.at
       Statistics Austria                                                                              www.statistik.at
       Ministry of Finance                                                                              www.bmf.gv.at
       Chief Information Office of Austrian Government                                                   www.cio.gv.at
       Supervisory Authority for Electronic Signatures                                              www.signatur.rtr.at
       Austrian Bankers’ Association                                                                    www.voebb.at
       Austrian Society of Corporate Treasurers                                                  www.finanz.opwz.com
       Austrian Federal Financing Agency                                                              www.oebfa.co.at
       Austrian Federal Economic Chamber                                                                   www.wko.at
       Austrian Business Agency                                                                         www.aba.gv.at
       Privatisation Agency                                                                              www.oeiag.at
       Vienna Stock Exchange                                                                      www.wienerboerse.at
       STUZZA                                                                                           www.stuzza.at
       Austrian Payment Council                                                         www.austrianpaymentscouncil.at
       Austrian Payment Systems Services                                                                  www.apss.at
       Europay Austria                                                                                 www.europay.at
       Quick e-money card                                                                                www.quick.at
       Austria Card                                                                                 www.austriacard.at
       EBPP GmbH                                                                                          www.ebpp.at




Country Profile: Austria                                      10                                Last Updated: September 2008
Country Profile: Austria   11   Last Updated: September 2008

				
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