Some years ago I was in charge of Nordic payment project, where we suppose to build a common interface for Nordic online bank. For several years that project was stuck, because a lot of misunderstandings. When it was my time to lead a project, it took me
some months until noticed what is wrong.
In the project group there were four members from four Nordic countries. We all used english as our common project language. But as it is not our native language, we translated everything in our heads to our local native language. When I was talking in english
about payment, I meant every money transaction from e-invoice to direct debit as a process where money transfer from one account to another. To one of my member payment means transaction from company to company or from individual to company. To him p2p payment
was own transaction. One member said that they have so many domestic payment forms and I have to always specify what I mean with word payment. So it was chaos. Until I bought a Oxford dictionary of banking to all members of project and started to insist to
use only those words. After that we got huge progress.
How this is linked to SEPA Direct Debit project? I assume there are same language problems. It is not only SEPA but all EU work is full of misunderstandings. As long as project members always reflect their languages to their native ones and reflect their
own experience to the services that used to use, there won't be a progress.
It'd appear that EU has done very well so far in establishing a single economic area and currency despite countries so close by but languages so far apart; multiple languages in a single, relatively small country (e.g. Belgium), and so on. And all this without
taking the easier way out of adopting English as the common business language. Agreed that there could now be challenges for achieving further progress going forward. Kudos for pointing out the role of language and culture as critical success factors. It's
a refreshing change from the common approach of sweeping such differences under the carpet as "soft factors".
© Finextra Research 2014