Sepa migration deadlines: dates floated but no decision

Sepa migration deadlines: dates floated but no decision

With Sepa-compliant transaction volumes still weak, Harcus Cooper of Barclays is forecasting the introduction of phased end-dates for mandatory conversion to the new EU-wide payment instruments, with credit transfers expected to get the nod in 2013 and direct debits by 2015.

The SCT scheme was introduced in early 2008, yet, according to ECB figures, two years later it accounted for just 7.5% of credit transfers in the Euro area. SDD take-up has been equally sluggish - at the recent EBAday it was noted that a paltry 200 SDD transactions per day, globally, go through EBA Clearing.

Cooper, Barclays' senior product manager on Sepa, was speaking at a payments event organised by Experian in London today. He noted that many corporates are having trouble justifying the business case for Sepa in the absence of a firm migration deadline away from legacy infrastructure.

The Experian event takes place just a week after the European Commission and European Central Bank hosted the first meeting of the Sepa Council, a new body created to guide the future development of the project which has been dogged with criticism.

The meeting is understood to have seen broad consensus reached that January 2013 would be a likely end date for credit transfers with direct debits following in 2015.

It has long been acknowledged that deadlines are necessary. Last March ECB executive board member Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell warned: "We need a migration end date from which on onwards only the European payment instruments will exist. We all know that it is inefficient and costly if two schemes continue to run in parallel for a prolonged period of time".

After talks with stakeholders last year saw widespread support for deadlines, the move appeared to gain impetus, with the EC initiating talks with member states in November yet final dates have still not been set.

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