A transfer is a transaction whereby the customer orders its bank to debit a sum from its account and credit said sum to one of its other accounts or to a third-party account.
From an economic point of view, a transfer is defined as an accounting procedure used to make a payment between parties with an account at the same bank or (by extension of the definition) at different banks which have an account with each other.
Objective: they are used to settle (pay) all types of invoices or contracts regardless of the underlying commercial consideration (purchase of movable or immovable assets, delivery of goods, tools, machinery, services, etc.).
Available to the self-employed and any type of business, payment by transfer applies in the following cases:
- creation of a business (notary fees);
- day-to-day management of the business (payment of employees’ salaries, rent, purchase of merchandise or equipment, etc.);
- growth of the business (purchase of new machinery);
- liquidation of the business (liquidation costs).
- the business giving the order and the beneficiary must have a bank account;
- the ordering customer must have all of the beneficiary's bank account details;
- the transfer order must be duly signed and contain the mandatory information (account to be debited, account to be credited, amount to be transferred);
- the bank account of the ordering customer must have sufficient funds or have a sufficient credit line for the payment to be executed.
Unlike a cheque, a transfer order does not transfer ownership of the amount in question to the beneficiary. A payment order can therefore be revoked. Only entry to the debit side of the ordering customer’s account allows the beneficiary to acquire his rights. Payment is only effective once the transfer is definitively carried out.
It is not possible to undo a transfer order once the ordering customer’s account has been debited as the transfer is then considered to be irrevocable.
Types of transfer
- European (European Union);
- international (any other region).
- in euros;
- in other currencies.
Degree of urgency
Standard EURO transfer – this involves any transfer where:
- the amount is below EUR 50,000;
- payment is made in euros within the European Union;
- the order is sent using an online payment system (MultiLine) or using a Titre Universel de Paiement (TUP - universal payment order) transfer form;
- the order contains the beneficiary’s IBAN (International Bank Account Number), its bank's BIC (Bank Identifier Code) and the words 'costs shared' (frais partagé);
- SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area).
- normal transfer;
- standing order: if a payment is made on a regular basis (e.g. the payment of rent every month), it is in the business’ interest to set up a standing order with its bank in order to ensure that this payment is made every month on the same date without fail.
Terms of payment and account credit time frames
The terms of payment given by suppliers depend on their commercial relationship with the debtor.
The time taken to credit the beneficiary's bank account depends on several factors, including the type of payment order, whether it is a domestic, European or international payment, whether or not there are any special (favourable) conditions, etc. For a standard national payment order, it generally takes 2 business days for an amount to be transferred from one account to another.
Advantages, disadvantages and risks
- transfer is considered to be irrevocable once the ordering customer’s account has been debited, so the debtor cannot undo the transaction;
- sizeable discounts from suppliers if payment is made within a certain time frame;
- monitoring of payments via bank statements.
- not automated (each transfer requires the involvement of one or more people in the business);
- transfer fees may be high depending on the amount;
- no transfer of ownership of the amount to the beneficiary.
Risk of errors with respect to the transfer order or the execution of the transfer, which could result in the payment not reaching the beneficiary or the amount transferred not matching the invoice amount.