The Irish business community is woefully unprepared for the imminenet arrival of a Single Euro Payment Area (Sepa), with 42% yet to begin making the necessary changes to their accounting systems, according to a survey by the Irish business and employers confederation (Ibec).
With the switch-over to Sepa just eight months away, the Ibec study of 300 Irish companies found that one-in-two were unaware of the impact Sepa will have on their payment procedures.
Ibec senior economist Reetta Suonperä says: "The existing national payments systems will close on 31 January 2014. To pay and collect electronic euro payments after that date, businesses will need to ensure that payroll, direct debit and accounting systems are Sepa ready.
"Businesses need to act now to ensure that their payroll and direct debit collection systems continue to function without problems."
Smaller firms employing fewer than 50 employees are the furthest behind, with one-in-two yet to start making any preparations.
While there is plenty of advice and support available from banks and software providers, says Suonperä, barely three in ten (31%) of smaller firms have discussed Sepa with their bank and just over one in five (22%) have consulted with their payments software provider.
Medium-sized firms with 50-249 employees are only slightly ahead. More than four in ten have not started preparations and only one in ten report that they are Sepa ready.
The nation's largest businesses are in better shape, with one-in-five now ready and 70% updating systems.
Says Suonperä: "Completing the necessary changes to payments and accounting systems will take several months, so it is essential businesses act now to ensure they are able to process electronic payments come 1 February 2014."