The Istituto Centrale delle Banche Popolari Italiane (ICBPI – Central Institute of Italian Cooperative Banks) is the group leader that operates in support of the growth and consolidation of banks, financial and insurance institutions, companies, and public administration.
ICBPI, in particular, is a System bank specialised in payment systems and services (national and international), in security services - offered according to a business process outsourcing model, and in the services of liaison between banks and companies and the public administration. In the payment services, through a partnership with Equens SE, the Institute manages one billion transactions yearly and it is the leader in Europe with a 15% market share. In the services of Automated Clearing House (ACH), ICBPI holds 45% of the domestic market (together with Iccrea Banca, with which it constitutes a single ACH), it participates in the EACHA (European ACH Association), and it provides the SCT (Sepa Credit Transfer) service to 33 direct adherents and 428 indirect ones. For these services, ICBPI guarantees the compliance to the rules and the criteria established by the European legislation (PSD- Payment Services Directive, and SEPA- Single Payments Area). In the framework of security services, ICBPI covers the entire supply chain of investment services: collection and transmission of orders, negotiation, consultancy, placement, clearing, settlement and custody. The Institute is also the only national operator carrying out the activity of Custodian Bank and Fund Administration. In the services of liaison between banks and companies and the public administration, ICBPI supports the infrastructure of Consorzio CBI (Interbank corporate banking consortium) with more than 80 banks managed in the role of Gestore Punto di Accesso (Access Point Provider), and with more than 170,000 companies active in the services of Struttura Tecnica Delegata (Technical Subject)). Moreover, ICBPI is the leader in Italy in the services and solutions of integrated e-invoicing. With Collections and Payments, the Institute has over 300 client banks and it offers innovative services in support of the import-export of enterprises (Global Trade Services).
ICBPI was established in 1939 on the initiative of six Banche Popolari (Cooperative Banks) – Cremona, Intra, Lecco, Lodi, Luino and Varese, Verona – as a body with the aim of strengthening and coordinating the action of cooperative banks. In time, the shareholders increased and included all Italian cooperative banks; today, its corporate structure is open to the participation of other banks and insurance companies.
Initially, the main objective was that of ensuring to the category of cooperative banks the service of bank cheque emission through the use of the so-called “representative bank cheque” (property of the Institute, but issued in the name and on behalf of the Institute itself by the single cooperative banks). In the following years, the Institute characterised itself as a reference point for the category due to all the initiatives in support of cooperative credit and its philosophy. From an operative point of view, it also assumed the function of clearing house for the majority of interbank transactions still based on paper exchange (i.e. cheques and bills) and that entailed an accounting intermediation between the associated banks and the rest of the domestic and foreign banking system.
In the 1980s, also through the support of the subsidiary joint-stock company Servizi Centralizzati-Seceti, the Institute assumed an active role in all events and transformation processes that led to the creation of SETIF (Servizio Elettronico Trasferimento Interbancario Fondi – Electronic Service of Interbank Fund Transfer) and SITRAD (Sistema Interbancario Trasferimento Dati – Interbank Data Transfer System), and consequently to the establishment of the modern interbank systems of payment (bank transfers, simple collections, documented operations, etc.). In this context, the Institute was an essential reference for the care of the specific interests of cooperative banks, and it performed the accounting settlement of the transactions passing through the Category Network of Cooperative Banks (whose network operator was Seceti) in a centralised way.
Afterwards, the Institute continued to preside over the section of the systems of payment, by carrying out the function of guide and support to the Category in the preparatory and testing phases of the various innovative events that took place both nationally and internationally: the dismantling of the Category networks constituting SITRAD, and the contemporaneous launch of the Applicative Centres of RNI (Rete Nazionale Interbancaria- Interbank National Network); the progressive extension of monetary settlements to all interbank payment services; the procedure of exchange and settlement of non-local cheques in the Clearing Houses; the Electronic Cheque Clearance; BIREL; TARGET; EBA.
Today, the Institute, together with its subsidiaries and controlled companies, although maintaing its role of service provider and cooperative credit supporter, is open to other banking and financial organisations, thus widening further its range of services provided.
Link: (website partly in Italian and partly in English) www.icbpi.it