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Life is strange. And so is SEPA.

As we dally in Europe with double-dip recession or recovery, and the Greek financial woes, life is indeed strange at the moment. And so is our attitude towards SEPA.

There’s a poignant old expression: “All dressed up and nowhere to go” and that seems so apposite for SEPA.  Here we have a gleaming new set of payment highways across Europe and the means to use them, which should speed up the journey times and make it all more efficient for all concerned, and yet we seem somehow loath to use them to full advantage. True, they don’t always lead where we might want them to, and they’re not perfect, but with a bit of effort, they could so easily offer a huge improvement on what has been available before. And by taking advantage of these new highways, the banks could at the same time deal with the potholes in the routes that they’ve used for so long. If this was on offer in the UK at the moment, people would overwhelmingly vote for it.

SEPA is here, and realistically it’s the only option for the foreseeable future. It has to be the time for the banks to take a step back, draw a deep breath and then tackle this wholeheartedly and strategically. They really could surprise themselves when they begin to realise the wide-reaching benefits across their entire payment processing activities. And they might just surprise their customers as well.

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