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Has SEPA failed?

We are already a third of the way through the SEPA year and its time to review where the industry is with this project? The feedback I have had from a number of corporates across the EU is that SEPA has still to make any significant impact on them. Many banks also appear reluctant to give SEPA the major thumbs up so far. So what's going wrong?

It appears that SEPA is suffering from its initial design faults as detailed in the whitepaper "SEPA against the tide" and as predicted by many experts in the market. Of course the criteria to measure success are always difficult to gauge and no doubt there are people and organisations out there that will trumpet that SEPA is a raving success.

There has been no publication of accurate industry figures demonstrating the SEPA effects after implementation as against before, so we can only go by descriptions gained from people in the market.

It looks like that we may have to wait until this year is over before any real assessment can be made but I would be eager to hear from anyone that believes that SEPA has been an operational success or that it has attracted much in the way of new pricing for customers or improved services.

When Direct Debits enter the SEPA world next year we can start to draw clearer conclusions of the overall success of this European finance industry project but to date the chances look slim for this project to have achieved anything more than a modest nod followed by a knowing wink!

Do please join in this BLOG and state your experience to date, so as we may all get a clearer picture of the industries current SEPA position. 


Comments: (6)

Bob Ford
Bob Ford - Barcays Bank plc - London 25 April, 2008, 07:12Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes


As a representative of the corporate sector, my experience of the SEPA implementation has been disappointing.

I asked my Bank about making a Euro transfer from the Company Euro account in the UK going to another Euro account within the Eurozone. The Bank concerned seemed proud that the price for such a transfer had reduced from £20 to £15 - usual 2-5 days for the transfer to be effected. Thankfully, the Bank concerned doesn't charge me £15 for a similar GBP payment otherwise my business would go elsewhere. There has also been a view passed from Bank personnel that SEPA doesn't affect the UK to a great extent because we don't use the Euro !!!!!

The other problem I have found when chatting to bank personnel at the sharp end is that they have no idea what SEPA really means and how it impacts the customer.

Finally, as for information, given that the Company has a Euro account at a bank in the UK, I find it surprising that there have been no leaflets, information brochures etc sent by the bank about SEPA and the likely impact on company business.

Just my tuppence worth, but I agree with you Gary.


Gary Wright
Gary Wright 25 April, 2008, 08:28Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Thank you Bob for this practical experience of SEPA. I suspect you not alone in this. The research I did last year on SEPA showed that Banks were involved in SEPA mystery projects with their customers not receiving any information concerning benefits of SEPA. New prices were and as your experience shows in short supply.

If the corporates are not receiving any of the benefits that SEPA was promised to deliver we must conclude that SEPA has failed. In which case SEPA is just political smoke and mirrors. What sanctions are there to force banks to deliver SEPA benefits to their customers and who is measuring that banks are delivering what SEPA promised?

I suspect we are seeing the biggest con ever!

Anyone got an alternative view? Especially banks!


Gary Wright
Gary Wright 25 April, 2008, 10:52Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Hi Chris

Apreciate the staus of SEPA right now but we do work in a service industry and the banks appear reluctant to contact their customers with descriptions of the changes and new prices because of SEPA. Surely a project of the size of SEPA would entail more customer liason ? It makes it look like the Banks dont want it and are dragging their heels. Recent loses by banks due to the crunch might have something to do with it? Or am i being cynical?

Gary Wright
Gary Wright 25 April, 2008, 13:47Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Was SEPA not the industry solution to the PSD? Corporates are clearly not receiving many benefits yet, even though several months of SEPA being implemented have passed. 

EACT have been trying for years to assist with SEPA and have struggled to get their requirements accepted by the industry. So we have the legal position in place, the customers willing, but the service suppliers hovering without intent. It's not a technology issue so we must look deeper into why time is slipping away and still no evidence that banks are serious about offering new services and prices. 

You're doing a grand job in excusing the lack of SEPA benefits Chris but I must take the side of the customer and ask when do we get to the SEPA promised land?   

Gary Wright
Gary Wright 25 April, 2008, 18:39Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Wow, not sure where the Olympics came in Chris! However, as you mention like many people we are concerned with cost escalation and the ability to deliver. Heathrow 5! Just an example but we could mention the Dome, Wembley and so on. Our record just is not good.

Anyway back to the point the SEPA project must be a failure until it delivers benefits to the customer. Several months in where are they?

Do we have to waite until DD enters before we see benefits? Dont benefits accrue or do we wait years until someone declares that SEPA is complete? Do benefits only appear when the whole thing is up and running? If so why?

Like MiFID the benefits do not hit the investors straight away and until I see the industry servicing the clients to the level that the directives set as an objective, it is a failure in my book.

For all my career, there has been a concentration on delivering good services to my clients, not sitting around waiting for directives and regulations to lead the way. Call it British if you will but I will always champion client interests, the need to protect them and offer great services at an attractive price. And I truely believe something is lacking in SEPA and MiFID so far. 

Gary Wright

Gary Wright


BISS Research

Member since

19 Sep 2007



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