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SEPA Migration Fails to Satisfy Sibos Delegates

A survey by my company - ACI Worldwide - at Sibos found that 78 percent of those delegates questioned who expressed an opinion ‘strongly agree' or ‘agree' that the migration to SEPA instruments has been disappointing to date. In addition, 46 percent of respondents feel there is nothing more that the banking industry's self regulation of SEPA can deliver and they overwhelmingly believe that the time is right for SWIFT to play a role in reversing the present situation.

The fact is that SEPA started as a framework to benefit corporates and consumers but has morphed into an interbank framework that has been moulded primarily by the banks. It's not surprising therefore that SEPA migration has been considered disappointing to date. However, I do agree with the majority of Sibos delegates that as an ‘external' body, SWIFT could help make SEPA a more attractive proposition for corporates. SWIFT could have an important role to play in helping the banking industry formulate a business case for corporates' SEPA migration. Such an approach would also help avoid the ‘mini-SEPA' dreaded by the regulators, where significant regional or country-specific variations exist. It might also just achieve one of the other items on the ECB's wish list: more innovation in payment systems spurred on by SEPA. Surely the potential gains make the effort worthwhile?

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Comments: (2)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 18 September, 2008, 16:00Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I disagree that it is up to SWIFT to get SEPA off the ground.

I am also here at SIBOS and yesterday there was a session entitled ’SEPA: Is there a pilot on board?’ The main message from the panel was that to kick-start SEPA you need a deadline, and I agree with them. It is the responsibility of the politicians to make SEPA a success. The public sector should also use SEPA whenever they initiate payments. This could dramatically increase the demand for software and services to support SEPA and increase the number of SEPA payments.

Once these services are in place it will be more cost-effective and easier for smaller and mid-sized corporates to implement them, which would again drive SEPA adoption.

SWIFT can only be a facilitator for the standards and formats that it has already helped putting in place. More work should go into removing differences in the country variations to help adoption. Here the local authorities should lead with SWIFT facilitating the harmonisation of the standard.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 26 September, 2008, 11:40Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I agree entirely that an end date is required (see my SIBOS Blog of 17th September), but that is only the beginning. Without further collaboration in the bank-to-corporate space, there is a real danger of a mini-SEPA developing where significant regional or country-specific variations exist - the very antithesis of SEPA. SWIFT is uniquely placed to assist in avoiding such a development. Citi's Francesco Vanni d'Archirafi sees SWIFT as playing a crucial role in facilitating the banks' increased appetite for collaboration and is quoted in the Preview edition of 'SIBOS Issues' as saying, "SWIFT is a means of unlocking innovation . . ." I could not agree more and contend that this potential could be extended to SEPA to the benefit of us all.