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A post relating to this item from Finextra:

European Central Bank calls for 'urgent' action on Sepa

24 November 2008  |  11219 views  |  1
The European Central Bank has called for an overhaul of governance and management of the European Payments Council in its latest report on impediments to the creation of a Single Euro Payments Area (S...

ECB's Sixth Progress Report on SEPA

25 November 2008  |  4230 views  |  0

The 5th Progress Report appeared in July 2007, but it seems that after 16 months have passed, the frustration at the lack of progress towards SEPA felt in the European Central Bank has forced them back into print.

They note that ‘motivation for the project has been fading away among market participants'. I have said for some time that self-regulation in this area has delivered all it can, and that a new impetus is required which I believe would come from two sources:
1. The setting of an end-date for the retirement of the legacy payment instruments.
The ECB also acknowledges that this is a requirement and "will work on the modalities (e.g. self-regulation or regulation), as well as the end-date itself". Without such a date being set, the current ‘domestic' payment traffic has little incentive to move to adopt the SEPA standards and instruments, which will otherwise largely be restricted to the ‘cross-border' transactions.
2. An industry body needs to bring together all stakeholders to move the European payment industry and all its end-users to the next critical stage along the path to a full SEPA.
I have mooted the idea that this could possibly be SWIFT, which has an improving track record of bringing together the banks, the market infrastructures and, more importantly, the corporates, to agree practical ways forward involving the setting of standards and formats acceptable to all parties, all in a realistic business context. The ECB itself has recognised that the European Payments Council (which is effectively the banks' answer to self-regulation) has made considerable progress but "there is still considerable room for improvement as regards involving the full range of stakeholders". Unfortunately, the cynics amongst us may feel that ultimately the banks' self-interest will prevail should the focus of SEPA remain the banks' own body. Yes, SWIFT is the bank-owned co-operative but at least a wider commercial reality stalks its corridors. I'm not sure we can say that about the EPC.


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