Salaries blocked, transfers on hold… Why certain banking operations will be suspended during the Easter weekend

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Many employees could receive their salary on Tuesday April 2 rather than at the end of March. Explanations.

Will salaries arrive this month a few days late? This is what seems to worry many Internet users, while the Journal du Geek published an article claiming that bank transfers would be “blocked for four days” during the Easter weekend. In question ? The closure from Friday March 29 to Monday April 1 of the Target 2 system which manages SEPA transfers – for “Single Euro Payments Area” – between banks in Europe. “Payment settlement systems, which are operated by the European Central Bank (ECB), are effectively closed on weekends and certain public holidays, including the Easter long weekend”confirms the French Banking Federation (FBF), which emphasizes that “the specificity” This year “is that the Easter weekend falls at the end of the month, the period for receiving salaries”.

Nothing exceptional therefore, according to the FBF which recalls that “these Target closure schedules are known well in advance in particular via communications by the ECB, clearing houses and, more specifically in France, the French Committee for Banking Organization and Standardization (CFONB)”. Furthermore, “these calendars are also relayed by the banks to their corporate clients”, specifies the FBF. And to emphasize: “We can therefore think that companies have taken the necessary anticipation measures for the transfer orders planned during this period of closure, in particular salaries, so that the latter are processed taking into account this period of prolonged closure, like every year”.

And the rules are clear: in the case of an internal transfer, it is almost instantaneous, but in the case of an external transfer, that is to say a transfer that comes from a bank other than that of the receiving account, the waiting time to receive the transferred money is in principle longer, “on average between 1 to 2 days”, from the transfer order. But “if the transfer request was recorded during the weekend, the waiting time will be even longer”warn the banks, “because its effective taking into account can sometimes wait until the following Monday morning”. In short, if companies pay salaries at the start of next week, between March 25 and 27, this could be done before the Easter weekend.

Exceptions to the rule

However, it should be noted “that instant transfer services offered by banks remain operational during periods when settlement systems are closed”, raises the FBF. Which concretely means that in the event of a so-called transfer “instant” , the account will in principle be credited within 10 seconds. Paid in certain establishments such as Crédit Agricole, CIC or Banque Populaire, sometimes free for youth cards in particular, the instant transfer does not go through the same transfer process, which explains this privilege. It operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, unlike traditional transfers which are interrupted on weekends and certain public holidays.

Another exception: exchanges of funds or transfers within the same bank, including when they are made between two separate people, are not affected by the closures of banking systems, weekends and public holidays. According to this same logic, it will be entirely possible to make a transfer from a deposit account to a savings account for example, and thus fund a Livret A, an EPL or an LDD. And this, without delay.

But in today's digital age, and when all bank transfers are entirely computerized, how can we explain that they are blocked only because of a weekend or a public holiday? “If unit payments are instantaneous, it is in particular because they are more expensive, whereas the payment of salaries generally depends in Europe on mass systems, which are much cheaper, in this case the Target 2 system”explains a specialist in the banking world, who specifies that “this is closed on weekends and public holidays like Boxing Day in English-speaking countries”. When contacted, the European Central Bank was even more pragmatic: “Even if it’s automated, there are people who manage it behind it, and take care of the maintenance. It's like this every year, that's why it doesn't work on weekends or on certain public holidays..

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