The European Commission and European Central bank have hosted the first meeting of the Sepa Council, a new body created to guide the future development of the Single Euro Payments Area project.
Governments have not backed Sepa because they have far more pressing issues to address in Euroland. SEPA will take decades to make any impact because IT IS NOT IMPORTANT to the lives of European citizens who are the people who tend to vote politicians in
and out of office. Still, at least the members of the Sepa Council can enjoy a few lunches in Brussels, where I'm told the food is pretty good.
I sincerely hope that this new council does give SEPA focus, the current unregulated regime has turned a laudable goal into a global farce, see the previous comment from Australia. I have had similar conversations with banks all over the world who are watching
Europe, initially in case SEPA was a great success but now in disbelief. One thing I would ask this new council is to include vendors as well as the end users; many of our smaller clients do not have the resources of the large players and rely on us to educate
and produce the solutions they need.
In my view simply getting to the point where 16 politically separate countries can even contemplate a single payment system is an achievement unequalled anywhere so it's good that the Sepa Council has come together to get things moving. However, one might
question whether meeting just twice a year is enough to ensure the drive and focus required for such a mammoth task.
Like Mr Kislingbury I also have concerns around the current lack of stakeholder involvement. Feedback on how best to streamline the Sepa payment process requires input from a far broader corporate audience including software providers. Organisations like
the European Direct Debit Association (EDDA) could help to encourage input not just from banks but also from businesses, clearing and settlement mechanisms and regulatory bodies to provide the necessary momentum for SEPA.
It's imperative that definitive deadlines are agreed for compliance and that migration end-dates for SCT and SDD are also set this year. This is a great opportunity for banks to collaborate with technology providers to add value to their retail, commercial
and corporate propositions.
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