It’s funny where your inspiration comes from. I had to do my annual tax return recently, which amazingly resulted in a small refund. What surprised me though (or maybe it shouldn’t) is that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) then went to all the
trouble of sending me a cheque in the post. Why does this amaze me? Well, it was the UK Government that forced the UK banks to implement a whole new system - UK Faster Payments (UKFP) - reportedly to reduce the banking charges it pays for making urgent payments.
Yet its own departments who are responsible for collecting taxes and the millions of transactions that entails, still relies on the process of printing a cheque, posting it, making the recipient fill in a pay-in slip, making me go to my banks, for the bank
to process and store the cheque, and for the value to take 4 days to clear after I get there! I am sure someone out there knows the cost of all this, but given the government is trying to save money, the banks have already invested in UKFP, and the government
has my bank account details, surely they could save time and money for the UK economy by using this nice shiny new system?
Whilst this is a very UK orientated story, there are certain parallels with Europe. SEPA is over 10 years old now, yet adoption is extremely low. There is a good argument for the regulator setting an end date, but, if the EU and the EU governments actually
used these new payment instruments which they mandated to make Europe more competitive, then the volumes would make the business case viable and SEPA would be a success.