CICS OM 17-018

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

15 August 2017

T O : All Member/Participant Banks


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:


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

return transactions.

1.1. Coverage

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.


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

“sending/receiving point.”


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).

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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.

2.5. Settlement

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

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(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

bank officer.

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

UV Image.

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



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.

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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

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3.7.7. Outgoing items to be captured should be classified and batched

accordingly, to wit: Regular CICS items Checks payable to the BIR Checks payable to the BOC Checks for re-clearing 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

its usability.

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

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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.


4.1. Participating Bank Module (PBM)

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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