French banks have pushed back the date for implementation of the Sepa Direct Debit scheme by a year to November 2010, setting the stage for a confrontation with the European Central Bank and the European Commission.
In a communique issued on Wednesday, the French National Sepa Committee said the decision to hold off on implementations stemmed from delays in the transposition of the Payment Services Directive to national law and the need for further investigation and clarification of the economics of new interchange fee levies.
The Committee, which is jointly chaired by the Banque de France and the French Banking Federation, said it would inform the relevant European authorities of its decision.
The move comes less than a month after the European Payments Council agreed on a November 2009 launch date for the implementation of Sepa Direct debits, following a strong push by the ECB and the European Commission.
Speaking in September last year, ECB executive board member Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell said it would "not be acceptable that bankers are not able to deliver the Sepa direct debits by a November 2009 deadline".