Cedicam, the payment flow and systems subsidiary of the Crédit Agricole Group, a leading financial services institution in Europe, has selected Accenture (NYSE:ACN) to implement a new IT platform for the Group to process the collection of European payments under the Single Euro Payments Area (Sepa) Direct Debit scheme (SDD), as required by the European Commission and the French regulator.
The SEPA directive was designed to simplify and standardize Europe's electronic payments market - including card payments, credit transfers and direct debits - and ease cross-border processing. Its direct debit scheme is designed to allow companies to conduct cross-border and domestic debit collections in euros using a common interface, infrastructure and set of processes across 32 countries.
Crédit Agricole's new platform centralizes SEPA direct debit collections for Crédit Agricole's several French regional IT payment systems, and processes payment transactions for many of the Group's banks. It also enables the company to process high volumes of payments more rapidly and cost-efficiently through a single IT platform and accelerates the time it takes to launch new and greater value-added payment products and services, particularly for the Group's corporate customers.
Accenture was selected by Crédit Agricole in 2009 to help implement the platform, based upon the Open Payment Framework (OPF) solution of Clear2Pay, a payment technology vendor, and to consolidate Crédit Agricole's multiple payment systems.
"Accenture has been helping Crédit Agricole since 2007 to define and execute its roadmap for restructuring its payment operations and systems," said Eric Sorin, deputy CEO of Crédit Agricole CEDICAM. "With the implementation of the SDD scheme on November 1, 2010, we achieved a key milestone with the deployment of our Group's platform, thus contributing to realize our ambition to be a leader in the payments business in Europe and reinforcing our leadership position in France. Accenture's knowledge of the payments business and its experience with complex, large-scale systems integration programs played a critical role in making this project a success."
"Given the need to integrate with a variety of existing bank systems, many of the changes to bank products required by SEPA were highly complex and required significant development efforts," said Bao-Viet Le, a senior executive in Accenture's Financial Services group. "Specifically, the implementation of the SEPA Direct Debit scheme has been perceived by many banks as being one of the most complex challenges due to its significant differences with existing national schemes. CEDICAM was able to implement a common payment platform to handle SEPA direct debits within the compliance deadline, and this new platform is robust enough to also handle the ever-growing volume of other SEPA transactions, including credit transfers, international payments and high-value payments."