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ECONOMY

New rules ‘don’t threaten Swiss banks’

The vice president of the Swiss National Bank defended on Saturday tough new regulatory measures, saying they do not pose a threat to Swiss banks' competitiveness.

“The new regulations are not excessive,” Thomas Jordan said in an interview with the Neu Zurcher Zeitung.

“I am convinced that the competitiveness of Swiss banks is not being threatened.”

The Swiss government last month approved new rules for major banks, including a provision that allows regulators to adjust their salary systems or ban bonuses if they seek state aid.

Parliament will consider the new rules in the coming summer and autumn sittings. If approved, the regulations could come into force in early 2012.

Jordan said that banks must “make an effort” to apply the new rules, noting they could have to build up extra capital and review their organisations.

“But I also want to stress that if these conditions are applied, then the large Swiss banks will be outstanding international finance institutions and will set themselves apart from foreign competition.”

In October 2010, a commission of experts advised the Swiss government to take tougher measures than imposed by Basel III international standards, which require banks to raise their high-quality core common equity to 7.0 percent of assets from the current 2.0 percent.

Swiss experts have called for a 10 percent level as well as an additional stock of convertible bonds, which could be turned into capital in case of difficulties.

The Federal Council wants to avoid a repetition of the situation which drove banking giant UBS close to collapse in 2008.

The institution had to be shored up by a multi-billion dollar state rescue package.

UBS recently said it feared negative repercussions for the Swiss finance sector as a result of the new regulations however.

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BANKS

Cashless payments in Switzerland: What is Twint and how does it work?

If you live in Switzerland, you are likely no stranger to Twint and maybe even use it regularly to make and receive payments. But if you are not familiar with this app, this is what you should know.

Twint app can be installed on a mobile phone.
“Twinting” money with a smartphone is easy and convenient. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

In Switzerland, the word “Twint” is used both as a noun and a verb.

As a noun, it describes the mobile application which allows you to pay for various goods and services practically everywhere in the country.

As a verb, (“to twint”), it means to send someone money, or receive it, via the same app.

So what exactly is Twint?

Simply put, it is digital cash (not to be confused with bitcoin, which is digital currency) that was first introduced in Switzerland in 2014 and has become very popular since then.

Twint logo. Image by Twint.ch

People like it because it is an easy and quick way to make instantaneous payments, especially in situations when credit cards or physical cash can’t be used.

A big part of its convenience is that it can be used at cash registers, vending machines and parking meters, as well as in online shops — pretty much everywhere in Switzerland, even in places that don’t accept credit cards.

The only similar mode of payment would be your maestro debit card issued by your bank.

This video explains exactly how the process works.

Another advantage of Twint is that you can use it to send money to someone else’s mobile phone — as long as they also have Twint. And you can receive money the same way.

And there are no fees or charges for this service.

How does Twint work?

Anyone can use Twint, but you need a Swiss bank account or a credit card and, of course, a smartphone.

According to Twint website, you need a smartphone with either an iOS (from version 12.2 and upwards) or Android (from version 7 and upwards) operating system and Bluetooth capability (from version 4.0 and upwards).

“It is generally not possible for Twint to be used on Apple devices with an operating system older than “iOS 12.2” or on Android devices with an operating system older than “Android 7”. On Android devices without access to the Google Play Store (e.g. on certain HUAWEI models), the use of Twint app is also not possible”.

But If you have a compatible phone, installing Twint is easy.

Swiss banks offer their own version of the app, and you can download it directly from your bank’s website.

Then, when you use Twint to make a payment, the amount is debited directly from your bank account or credit card.

By the same token, if you receive payment from another Twint user, the money is automatically deposited in your account.

And you are not limited to just one Twint app.

If you have accounts is several banks, or have more than one credit card, you can install and use all of them.

READ MORE: How to open a bank account in Switzerland

Can Twint be used to make payments and receive money from abroad?

For the moment, Twint can be used solely in Switzerland and payments can be made only in Swiss francs – although this may change in future. 

“We are, however, working closely with providers in other countries to develop an international and multi-currency solution”, according to Twint website.

You can find more information about Twint here.

READ MORE: Which bank is best for Americans in Switzerland?

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