Sepa migration deadline set at February 2014

Sepa migration deadline set at February 2014

The European Parliament and Council have finally reached agreement on a deadline of February 2014 for the migration to Sepa credit transfers and direct debits.

The EC has long accepted the need to enforce migration deadlines from national credit transfers and direct debits to Sepa (Single Euro Payments Area) instruments, conceding self-regulation has failed to bring the move about quickly enough.

Last December the Commission set out its proposals for EU-wide end-dates, suggesting that once the regulation comes into force, national credit transfers be replaced by the pan European Sepa SCT within 12 months, with direct debits following after another year.

However, following pressure from, among others, the Parliament and the European Central Bank, the idea of separate deadlines has been ditched. Instead, a legally binding February 2014 date has been agreed by the EC and MEPs, and now awaits the rubber stamp of full Parliament and Council approval.

The Sepa deal to ensure EU-wide rules making payment service providers compete fairly, eliminate hidden national bank charges, and accelerate transfers, could save up to EUR123 billion within six years, claim MEPs, benefiting clients, banks, and businesses.

Sari Essayah, MEP, says: "The Sepa is a fundamental element of the internal market. The internal market cannot function well without Sepa. Moreover Sepa will provide the basis for other developments in the single market."

European Commissioner Michel Barnier adds: "By agreeing with the Commission proposal to fix a deadline for the migration to pan-European payment instruments just over a year after it was proposed, the European Parliament and the Council have risen to the ambitious challenge to increase the efficiency of our payment systems so that high-quality and competitively priced electronic payment products exist throughout the whole of the EU."

However, despite 2014 representing a significant delay to the initial targets for migration, it could still prove ambitious. At the Sibos banking conference in September, a straw poll of delegates conducted during a panel session found the naysayers on the floor held a slim majority over the optimists when asked whether 2014 could be met.

Vendor Experian was quick to welcome the decision, and also tout for business, with Jonathan Williams, director of payments strategy, warning: "Early adoption is crucial. If left to the last minute, the Sepa requirements have the potential to be both disruptive and costly. Banks and their corporate customers need to provide a smooth transitional process to Sepa in order to avoid costly errors and keep customers happy."

Comments: (2)

Bo Harald
Bo Harald - Transmeri, Demos, Real Time Economy Program,MyData - Helsinki Region 21 December, 2011, 10:09Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

This gives banks ample time to launch e-invoicing services using the ISO20022 message standard - automating handily the ISO20022 SEPA payments. This also drives SEPA-adoption in a natural way.  Banks should also integrate direct debit into e-invoicing - it makes no sense to not do it - enterprise customers can save so much with one integrated solution.


A Finextra member
A Finextra member 02 February, 2012, 09:42Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Some Irish banks already refuse to process payments through their online banking systems to non-SEPA reachable financial institutions.

These banks include AIB Bank, they have already proved themselves dysfunctional in most areas but this is yet another incidence of them acting without thought or consequence for the customers or their reputation.

They have stated that if a beneficiary bank is not SEPA reachable now (rather then Feb 2014), they cannot process a payment to them after 3.30pm each day and they are incapable of holding the payment until the next day.

AIB Bank never fails to disappoint!