SEPA Ready or Not?
The 2008 TMI SEPA Survey
by Helen Sanders, Editor
On 28 January 2008, the SEPA Credit Transfer went live, with a number of the larger banks issuing press releases almost immediately emphasising not only their ‘SEPA Readiness’ but announcing the first SEPA transactions. Many of the early transactions were bank-to-bank payments, not corporate-to-bank payments, so what does SEPA mean in practice for corporates?
The launch of the SEPA Credit Transfer is only the first step in a far longer process towards payment harmonisation.
The launch of the SEPA Credit Transfer is only the first step in a far longer process towards payment harmonisation. With the SEPA Direct Debit and Payments Service Directive, both huge undertakings, due for launch in November 2009 and an arduous transition process, we can expect to see the SEPA saga continuing for some years to come.
‘SEPA Ready’ and ‘SEPA Compliant’ are terms which have littered press releases and marketing literature for some time now, but with SEPA in such early stages, to what extent can corporates realistically take advantage of SEPA - and what advantages are there to be taken at such an early stage? To find out, TMI recently issued an exclusive SEPA Survey across twenty of the top banks operating in Europe to find out what SEPA capabilities banks are making available to their corporate customers today and the plans they have in place to develop these in the future.
1. What SEPA-related services do you support or are you planning to support?
All the banks we surveyed started offering SEPA Credit Transfers on the launch date of 28 January. Most banks expect to offer the full range of SEPA payment products in due course - one did not anticipate offering direct debits and two did not envisage providing card payments.
The date at which banks can introduce SEPA Direct Debits will depend on the official launch date, which is currently scheduled for November 2009. Not all banks seemed clear on this, with some saying that they were planning to offer SEPA Direct Debits later in 2008 and some during the first half of 2009. In reality, I think we can be safely assured that as with Credit Transfers, the banks will be gearing up to offer the new direct debit product from the 2009 launch date.
The introduction of SEPA cards is more variable. Twelve of the 18 banks supporting SEPA Cards already do so, whereas the remaining six are planning to introduce services over the course of the next two years.