European Central Bank warns of Sepa failure in the absence of binding legislation
08 April 2011 | 12766 views | 4
The European Central Bank has called on Brussels to impose concrete end-dates for the imposition of new payments instruments under the Single Euro Payments Area (Sepa) project.
In December, the European Commission proposed an end-2012 timeline for the banking industry to move to new EU-wide credit transfers and direct debits.
The ECB - which had initially been calling for an end-2012 date for SCTs and a shift to SDDs taking place the following year - has reiterated its call for an extended timetable in its formal response to the European Commission's December paper.
Says the central bank: "Taking into consideration the payment industry's need for sufficiently long lead times, the ECB suggests setting concrete dates, which could preferably be at the end of January 2013 for credit transfers and the end of January 2014 for direct debits."
The ECB remains supportive of the European Commission's push for binding regulation, warning that a failure to act could wreck the entire project: "A Union act of general application, binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States, is...considered essential for successful migration to Sepa, as the project would otherwise face a serious risk of failure."
The central bank is also calling on Brussels to provide clear guidance on the regulation of interchange fees for debit card transactions. In 2009, the Commission introduced a temporary default interchange fee for cross-border direct debits, together with a temporary endorsement of national interchange fees for direct debits.
"Both of these Articles will no longer apply on 1 November 2012," notes the ECB. "In order to avoid a legal vacuum hampering migration to Sepa direct debit, it is important that a long-term solution for interchange fees for direct debits is established."