On a mission to get the non-bank perspective on Europe’s progress towards a Single Euro Payments Area I sat in on a couple of fringe conferences sessions at the EBAday show in Rome. Technology vendors I’d spoken to ahead of the show had promised to stir
things up a little, and this they duly did, giving their banking paymasters a good kicking in the process.
Gianfranco Tabasso, chairman of the European Association of Corporate Treasurers complained that national banking associations were translating the Sepa rulebook to suit their own legacy systems, effectively creating a multitude of new interface requirements
for corporates transacting across Europe.
If the banking industry failed to deliver on the promise of an end-to-end system for payments processing across Europe, he said, then corporates would respond with their own alternatives based around their preferred standard of ISO20022.
Karsten Egetoft of SAP railed against the new requirements for corporates to reference IBAN and BIC data in payments messaging – arguing that the prices charged by interbank network Swift for access to the BIC reference data dictionary was an obstacle to progress.
The re-writing of direct debit mandates and the lack of transparency at national level were also major bugbears.
Uwe Pein of Accenture likewise chided the bank industry for failing to seek out the views of clients and keep them up-to-speed with developments.
Light relief came in a separate session featuring representatives from MasterCard and Visa. Luke Olbrich, senior business leader at MasterCard Worldwide and Jonathan Vaux, head of product and partnership at Visa Europe both wore big smiles, but couldn’t resist
putting the boot in to each other at any available opportunity - typified from the outset when Vaux thanked Olbrich for his sales pitch, immediately after following him to the mic at the beginning of the session.