The European Commission is in talks with member states about setting a deadline for the migration of national payment schemes to the new Single Euro Payments Area (Sepa) after a public consultation exercise showed widespread support for the move.
The EC initiated consultation with key stakeholders in June on whether and how deadlines should be set for the migration of existing national credit transfers and direct debits to the new Sepa-compliant payment instruments.
The results showed that "a large majority" of respondents support the idea of enforcing dates for the use of legacy payment instruments, says the EC, although users expressed concerns about quality issues relating to direct debits and the need for enough time to become acquainted with the new products.
In July, a coalition of payments systems users published a highly critical report on the Sepa project and the lack of consultation with end-users, warning that the setting of an arbitrary end-date could destabilise the entire scheme.
One option under consideration by the Commission is to set separate deadlines for Sepa credit transfers and direct debits, since both schemes were not launched at the same time and do not have the same level of maturity.
Internal market and services commissioner Charlie McCreevy says: "Setting clear deadlines for the migration to Sepa would send a strong signal that Sepa is an irreversible process. It would provide certainty and predictability and act as a strong incentive for both industry and users to speed up migration."