Updated: Dec 4, 2020
15 August 2017
T O : All Member/Participant Banks
R E : UPDATED CICS OPERATING GUIDELINES
1. In view of recent changes in the guidelines which include additional codes listed in the
Return Reasons table, we are updating the Operating Guidelines for the Check Image
Clearing System (CICS), to wit:
Sec. 1 – INTRODUCTION
This document describes the operating guidelines primarily for the use of all
Member/Participant Banks’ personnel who are responsible for the preparation and
submission/transmission of all outward check transactions to the CICS as well as the
processing of inward clearing items. Similarly, this document also covers the preparation
and submission/transmission of outward returns to the CICS and processing of incoming
CICS’ nationwide implementation covers the Greater Manila Area, all cities,
provinces formerly defined under the Integrated and Regional Local Exchange
(RLX) Clearing Centers.
The Member/Participant Banks/branches located in these areas will truncate checks
deposited with them or issued in their favor that need to be cleared in accordance
with the provisions of Sec. 3 of these Operating Guidelines.
1.2. Clearing Session
CICS supports different categories of clearing transactions. These clearing
transactions will have separate clearing windows and are basically of the following
1.2.1. Regular Presentment or Forward Window - for the submission/transmission
by the Presenting Bank of its demand to the Drawee Bank for payment of a
Regular Clearing Item (RCI), i.e., Check deposited with or issued to the
Presenting Bank to be cleared by presentation of its electronic image and
data via the CICS;
On any clearing day, cut-off time for the Regular Presentment Session is at
4:30 PM of that day. All RCIs received by the CICS within this cut-off time
will be included in the settlement for the day. RCIs received by the CICS
after this cut-off time will automatically be included in the Regular
Presentment Session of the Next Clearing Day (i.e. the clearing day
immediately following Day 1).
Special clearing of RCIs that do not meet the 4:30 PM netting cut-off is
unnecessary as such items will automatically be included in the Regular
Presentment Session of the Next Clearing Day.
1.2.2. Returns Presentment or Returns Window - for the transmission by the
Drawee Bank to the Presenting Bank via the CICS of an RCI that is
dishonored or unpaid.
Returns Presentment Session is the period immediately after the 4:30 PM
Regular Presentment Session and will end at the prescribed cutoff time of
the Next Clearing Day. Any RCI received by the Drawee Bank within the
regular presentment window however, may be returned by it prior to the
day’s 4:30 PM cut-off time. Though it will have zero effect on the Netting
Results, such item will form part of the Session’s transactions and will be
included in the usual processing reports.
For the Presenting Bank, RCI will appear on the list of Regular Outward
Items as well as on the list of Return Inward Items. Consequently, the same
item will be included in the list of Regular Inward Items of the Drawee Bank
as well as on the list of Return Outward Items. All return transactions
received by the CICS on or before the prescribed Return Presentment Cutoff
2 time will be value-dated Day 1.
The PBM will reject Return Items that do not meet the Returns Presentment
Cut-off Time and as such, the Drawee Bank may opt to present them directly
(special clearing) to the Presenting Bank Central Clearing Unit on or before
the prescribed Special Clearing delivery cut-off of same day pursuant to
Section 20 of the CICS RR.
Settlement of Special Clearing of Returns shall be thru Clearing
Receipt/Charge Slip (CR/CS). Details such as Presenting Bank/Branch Name,
BRSTN, check number, amount of the Check/Item to be returned and the
reason for dishonor must be clearly indicated or written on the CR/CS to
serve as reference. The CR/CS should be accompanied by Special Return
Check Advice (SRCA) with the image of the item to be returned and a
covering letter (see Annex A for the suggested format of the letter) to
document the manual exchange.
1.2.3. Express Presentment - for the submission/transmission by the Presenting
Bank of its demand to the Drawee Bank for immediate payment of an RCI.
Initial implementation of CICS however, will be for local currency only and
will not yet include express clearing.
Sec. 2 - CLEARING REQUISITES UNDER IMAGING AND TRUNCATION
2.1. Sending Bank/Receiving Point
A Member/Participant Bank may have multiple points of capture but will only have
one main single point of connection to the CICS which will be termed as
2- Return Presentment Cut-off is the deadline set by the BSP and implemented by PCHC for the banks to submit dishonored items
via CICS. Returns Cut-off time is 7:30 AM of the next clearing day (with reference to DAY 1).
Member/Participant Banks may opt to have additional sending points (but not
additional receiving points) by allowing one or any of its branches to have
additional PBM. Additional PBM will enable the Head Office to have back-up
server that can be used simultaneously with the primary PBM and transmit directly
to the CICS or a branch in a certain location to act as the lead branch where all the
transactions of the other branches are transmitted to the Head Office or directly to
2.2. Digital Signatures
Security of data and image is a primary consideration in CICS operation. The
implementation of the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) shall ensure data authenticity,
integrity and non-repudiation. The PBM of the Presenting Bank will encrypt every
Image Cash Letter (ICL) File and affix digital signature on it before its transmission
to the CICS. The image and data must be secured using the PKI throughout the
entire transmission cycle between the Presenting Bank, PCHC and the Drawee
All images of clearing items shall include a hash using the SHA256 algorithm and
this must be included in the ICL File. The purpose of this hash is for the Drawee
Bank to validate whether the Images received are not altered. It is the responsibility
of the Presenting and Drawee Banks to ensure that the movement of electronic
files from their host capturing systems to the PBM is secured. Access to the bank’s
PBM must be limited to authorized personnel only.
2.3. Management of Digital Certificates
PCHC shall be the entity to manage the issuance, revocation, and maintenance of
the digital certificates that will be installed in all the Member/Participant Banks’
PBM servers. All PBMs must be installed with a Hardware Security Module (HSM)
component and corresponding digital certificates that will be used for the digital
signing and encryption of the ICL Files.
The validity of the digital certificates was set to five (5) years and it will be up to
the participant bank to coordinate with PCHC for the renewal of these certificates
at any time.
2.4. Use of Secure Network
All the generated ICL Files duly validated, encrypted & digitally signed, will travel
over a secure communication link between the connecting Member/Participant
Bank to the CICS. All acknowledgement messages will be transmitted via the same
link. Banks may connect to the CICS via the Internet IP/VPN or leased line.
Transactions settlement in every clearing Session shall be made on the basis of the
electronic Check data.
2.6. Storage/Archive and Retrieval
Original paid Checks (captured items) must be stored for 180 days from the date
of their payment (“Payment Date”) through the CICS.
PCHC will archive the images and data in its original ICL form. These electronic
records will be made available online to the Member/Participant Banks for twelve
(12) months from their respective Payment Dates. Only authorized personnel of
Member/Participant Banks will have access to the PCHC storage and archiving
Images and data archived by PCHC beyond the said 12-month period will be stored
in hard disks and other storage media for future reference. PCHC shall keep
Archived images and data for a period of ten (10) years from Payment Date. Request
for retrieval/copies of these archived records must be duly signed by authorized
2.7. Scanning Standard
Scanning of the item transactions must conform to the prescribed image standards:
2.7.1. Front and Rear CCITT G4 Format (200 DPI)
2.7.2. Front Image JPEG Format (100DPI)
2.7.3. Front UV Image (Inverted CCITT G4 Format 200 DPI)
High-value items (500,000.00 and above) will be transmitted to PCHC with
corresponding UV Image. If dishonored with service charge however, the resulting
reduction in the amount (below 500,000.00) will no longer require sending of the
Member/Participant Banks must ensure that their equipment meets the
requirements of the Image Quality Assurance (IQA) standards. The 1st level IQA
should be at the point of capture for immediate detection of exceptions. The PBM
shall perform 2nd level IQA tests to validate all captured images transmitted by the
Sec. 3 – PREPARATION OF OUTWARD CLEARING ITEMS
3.1. Presenting Bank’s Due Diligence Requirements
Clearing and settlement will be done on the basis of image and electronic payment
information. Hence, it is the responsibility of the Presenting Bank to ensure that
captured images of the Checks meet the Image Usability Requirement. This is
necessary for the Drawee Bank to exercise ‘Pay’ and ‘No Pay’ decision. Likewise,
it may help the Drawee Bank to detect any fraud, forgery or tampering apparent on
the face of the instrument that can be verified with due diligence and ordinary care.
Member/Participant Banks must enforce strict KYC (Know Your Customer)
standards and procedures in order to protect the integrity of the image-based Check
clearing system. The banks should observe all precautions. e.g. to check the
minimum security standards set in the Check paper, apparent tenor of the
instrument, physical feel of the instrument, any tampering visible to the naked eye
with reasonable care, etc. For enhanced attention, based on exceptions, the banks
may employ suitable risk management techniques like scrutiny of high value
transactions; limit-based checking by officials, new accounts alerts, etc. The
Presenting Bank takes full responsibility for collecting on behalf of the intended
payee and exercises due diligence in accordance with the conditions set forth in
the CICS Rules and Regulations (CICS RR) and accompanying guidelines.
3.2. Physical Check/ Instrument Capture
Image and MICR code line of a Physical Check/Instrument when captured by
scanners/devices must meet the Image Usability Requirement.
3.3. Unique Identification Code (UIC)
UIC must be generated and printed at the back of the Check/ instrument or
electronically imposed on the dorsal image of the Check.
UIC information will be included in the ICL File that will be transmitted by the
Presenting Bank to the CICS.
3.4. Data Entry
The Front-end solution of the Presenting Bank shall have the capability of amount
data entry and correction/completion of MICR details misreads. All items with
corrected MICR details must be properly tagged in the ICL File by the Front-end
solution to alert the Drawee Bank of the corrections effected manually during
capture on the MICR details.
3.5. Re-clearing of Checks
Any Check that is eligible for re-deposit can be re-cleared once with the original
Presenting Bank under the same depository account. The Front-end solution of the
Presenting Bank should be able to likewise tag this item in the ICL File for the
information of the Drawee Bank.
3.6. BRSTN Register Updating
The BRSTN master table shall be automatically updated by PCHC in the Bank’s
PBM. Member/Participant Banks shall update its Front-end/capture system
3.7. Preparation and Submission of Outward Transactions
The Presenting Bank shall ensure that:
3.7.1. The Checks are compliant with the minimum security standards prescribed
under the amended Check Design Standards and Specifications as well as
other internal/security controls prior to acceptance.
3.7.2. The account number of the depositor/payee is legibly written on the portion
below the depositor’s signature/payee’s endorsement on the dorsal portion
of the Check.
3.7.3. The said account number is correct and tallies with the depository account
3.7.4. The account number is not obscured by any markings/stamp affixed on the
Check’s dorsal side.
3.7.5. The UIC appears on the dorsal side of the Check or electronically imposed
on the dorsal images of the check
3.7.6. If a returned Check is sent for re-clearing, a 2nd presentment stamp shall be
affixed by the Presenting Bank on the dorsal portion of the physical Check
3.7.7. Outgoing items to be captured should be classified and batched
accordingly, to wit:
220.127.116.11. Regular CICS items
18.104.22.168. Checks payable to the BIR
22.214.171.124. Checks payable to the BOC
126.96.36.199. Checks for re-clearing
188.8.131.52. IQA Failed Items
3.7.8. Batch size in an ICL File shall be limited to 100 items or less
3.7.9. The front and rear images of the Check and the MICR code line data are
captured within groupings referred to as batches.
3.7.10. At the point of Check processing and scanning of the rear of each
document, the Presenting Bank’s capture device will print an endorsement
line i.e. Unique Identification Code (UIC). Such info shall also be included
in the electronic Check data to be transmitted to the CICS.
3.7.11. The Front-end system of the Presenting Bank shall perform the Image
Quality Assurance (IQA) Tests to all the captured images in order to assure
3.7.12. All outward batches presented to the CICS are balanced. The MICR Code
line correction must have been carried out to ensure that all MICR data are
present and amount entry made to assign an amount electronically to each
Check. Any correction done on the pre-qualified MICR Code Line must be
tagged to caution the Drawee Bank.
3.7.13. Once balanced, batches are converted into its equivalent ICL File in
accordance with the published standard as defined in the recently released
PBM Technical Specifications prior to their transmission/ submission to the
CICS. A batch can contain a maximum of 100 items.
3.7.14. The Presenting Bank Front-end solution must observe the rules for the
generation of ICL Files, i.e. ICL File can contain multiple batches at a
maximum of 200 items.
3.7.15. The Front-end system will submit the generated outward ICL File to the
Participant Bank Module (PBM) embedded within its own system for
preliminary validation and transmission.
3.8. Frequency of Submission
It is recommended that Member/Participant Banks submit ICL Files to the CICS
every so often in order not to clog the lines particularly in the last hour before cutoff.
3.9. Alternative Delivery Media
For contingency, the files in the PBM that fail to be transmitted to CICS can be
copied to an alternative media such as a CD, USB or any type of removable disks.
Files delivered by a bank to PCHC thru the use of storage media for uploading shall
be accepted subject to the same acceptance criteria as those for files received via
a communications link. This contingency procedure requires previous confirmed
notification with PCHC and similarly subject to the usual 4:30 PM cut-off.
3.10. Image Cash Letter (ICL) Files accepted by the CICS
ICL Files received at the CICS will be initially validated by the Clearing House
Module (CHM), an equivalent version of the PBM at the PCHC’s back-end. Each
ICL File will have its digital signature validated and decrypted if valid. This module
will carry out structure and content validation and continue to accept and process
when there is no exception. Accepted files are passed to the CICS where they are
converted into inward ICL files for distribution to the Drawee Banks. When CICS
accepts an outward ICL File, an acknowledgement file is automatically generated
and sent to the originating PBM.
If the Primary PBM of the Drawee Bank is unavailable to receive Inward files, the
Drawee Bank shall use the bank’s Secondary PBM upon request for
Outward Return ICLs and Inward Return ICLs are similarly handled as described
3.11. Item/s not Accepted by the CICS
If an item fails validation at the Presenting Bank’s PBM for any reason, that item
will be rejected but remaining valid items will continue to be processed. The
acknowledgment file generated will include the details of the rejected items and
the reason for rejection thus the need for the Presenting Bank to verify the
acknowledgment message. If an item fails validation at the Drawee Bank’s PBM, it
will be automatically returned to the Presenting Bank, i.e. Duplicate Item detected
by PBM. If all items are rejected, the ICL File will not be accepted.
3.12. Balancing and Reconciliation
Member/Participant Banks should document the process flow and ensure
establishment of control mechanisms. Special care and adequate quality controls
should be in place during rescanning and re-clearing of Checks. The banks must
have internal control reports at the end of each Regular/ Returns Presentment
window to effectively reconcile the presentation made against the total credit in
the clearing result for the day. Similar control should also be observed in validating
inward transactions received against the total debit. Reports showing the Total
(count and values) Outward and Inward Clearing transactions are available at the
PCHC web portal for reference. In case of discrepancy, the same should be
resolved immediately. CICS Rules and Regulations as well as CICS Operating
Memos provide mechanism to settle clearing discrepancy if needed. The service
branches of the banks following distributed-outward model should refer to the
branch clearing control reports for verification of actual credit received from PCHC.
SEC. 4 – PROCESSING AT THE PARTICIPATING BANKS MODULE: OUTWARD
4.1. Participating Bank Module (PBM)
The CICS PBM server provides ICL Files validation and provides an interface for
sending and receiving ICL Files from and to the CICS.
4.2. Checking of Duplicate ICL
Any duplicate ICL File that is detected by PBM will be rejected in its entirety. An
ICL File is considered a duplicate if the filename of the ICL File matches that of a
previously processed ICL File.
In case of item duplication however, only the duplicate item/s detected during
CICS processing will be rejected. The rest of the items in the ICL File will be
accepted and processed.
4.3. Receiving Outward Presentment
The PBM will receive the duly balanced Outward clearing files containing Check