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Getting the timing right for a SEPA end date

Many people I have spoken to in the industry believe that finally, in 2010, we will see the announcement of an end date for SEPA. It is something many of us have been calling for, and now it looks like it might happen soon, so I can't help but wonder what the impact will be.

Obviously a lot depends on what the end date actually is (or, horror of horrors, more than one end date) - hopefully it will be far enough away to give banks time to implement systems that will give them long term strategic benefits, rather than just again having to quickly 'make do and mend' with their existing systems; but not so far away that banks don't have any impetus to start their SEPA projects and the benefits are in turn delayed. For the banks, having a deadline, almost irrespective of what that deadline is, helps those individuals whose job it is to drive these projects forward. It is much easier to explain internally the benefits of a project if it is also a regulatory imperative. And certainly the vendor community is largely ready - I can obviously only speak for my company, ACI, but we are ready, willing and able to support fully those banks who wish to move now to secure those strategic benefits of SEPA. There's really little excuse for bank tardiness.

Once the end date is announced, I'm sure we will start to see a number of banks take another close look at SEPA - what they have achieved so far and what is still to be done - and many will in turn start (or speed up) internal projects towards full compliance. But I hope the pressure isn't on the banks to move too quickly, because those that ultimately take their time to get it right may well be the ones who benefit more in the long term.


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