The Central Bank announced it will end the SINPE (Sistema Nacional de Pagos Electrónicos) transfers format by the end of the year, when all financial entities must apply the International Bank Account Number (IBAN).

Starting on January 1, 2019, the 17 digit SINPE client account number currently used to receive or send money between financial institutions, will no longer be used.

The IBAN is an internationally agreed system of identifying bank accounts across national borders to facilitate the communication and processing of cross-border transactions with a reduced risk of transcription errors.

The IBAN is currently used by financial institutions in Costa Rica for international transfers. The IBAN uniquely identify a customer’s bank account, consisting of an alphabetical country code, followed by two digits, and then up to thirty five characters for the bank account number.

This IBAN system has a number of advantages, mainly security and functionality, since it has more checks when passing or requesting money from bank accounts. In addition, it will allow the sending or receive money from abroad in a more agile and fast way, and without the confusion of the local SINPE number.

The Central Bank has given financial institutions to the remainder of the year to finish developing their IBAN programs.

“Continuing with the work schedule, during 2018 the Implementation of the IBAN Standard – Phase II is scheduled, which corresponds to a task of replacing the internal systems of its entities, which work with the client account number and the internal account number, so that they operate exclusively with the IBAN account format,” explained Carlos Melegatti, director of the Central Bank’s payment division.

“To date, all entities should already be able to provide their customers with the IBAN account in at least one of the different channels and instruments (printed on debit and credit cards that are being issued, website, mobile banking , statement, printed on the payment vouchers, call center, check form, among others),” said Melegatti.

A Costa Rican IBAN number would look something like this:
CR 76 0 15202001993951055

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