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TAX

Tax evasion failings ‘will be tackled’

The Swiss authorities said on Thursday they will look at ways of fulfilling tax recommendations from the OECD which has complained that the country is still not doing enough to combat tax evasion.

The Global Forum on Transparency and Information Exchange for Tax Purposes, set up under the auspices of the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, on Wednesday welcomed Switzerland’s rapid progress in meeting new norms.

But at the same time the Forum, meeting in Bermuda, noted that recent tax information agreements agreed by Switzerland do not fully comply with the regulations.

“The Global Forum is recommending that we take several measures. The Swiss will examine how to implement those recommendations,” the Swiss government said in a statement.

In 2009, at the height of the global financial crisis sparked by the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers, Switzerland was singled out with several other tax havens for its tradition of bank secrecy and lack of transparency.

Secret flows of money, as well as cheating the taxman, were also seen as destabilising and having contributed to the crisis, sparking calls for radical reform, chiefly involving full transparency and information sharing.

As a result, Switzerland was put on an OECD list of countries failing to meet standards for full disclosure and was required to become more open – which it has since done by negotiating a series of information exchange accords with its partners.

The Global Forum of 101 nations noted that requests for tax information from Switzerland must be made in great detail, with identities established, rendering a cooperative exchange more difficult.

Switzerland has agreed to modify its response to information requests but will have to do more if it is to be cleared and go on to the next evaluation phase in the second half of 2012, the Global Forum said Wednesday.

The Global Forum examined some 35 countries, finding that France, Italy, New Zealand and the United States generally met standards but Paris, Rome and Washington could be quicker in responding to information requests.

The OECD meanwhile announced the coming into force of a new convention on tax evasion which OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria urged all countries to adopt.

“The updated convention, which incorporates internationally agreed standards for exchange of information in tax matters, is the most comprehensive multilateral instrument available for tax co-operation,” the OECD said in a statement.

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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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