Issue 4 - October 2009
Opinion and Editorial
Towards a SEPA migration end date?Commission services publish feedback on public consultation on possible end date(s) for SEPA migration
30.10.09 BY Véronique Margerit
In September 2009, the Commission services published the results of a public consultation on whether and how deadlines should be set for the migration of existing national credit transfers and direct debits to the new Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) payment instruments. 136 responses were received both from the supply and the demand side, which show the strong interest of stakeholders. Respondents generally expressed support for fixing at EU level a deadline for the full migration to SEPA. The Commission will discuss this matter with Member States before taking a decision on how best to proceed. Véronique Margerit summarises the feedback received.***
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A large majority of respondents in favour of setting end-date(s) to stimulate SEPA migration
The results of the public consultation showed that a large majority of respondents support the idea of setting some end-dates to stimulate migration to SEPA credit transfers and direct debits. The SEPA project holds much promise in terms of improved efficiency, dynamism and competitiveness of the European economy. Offering both the legacy and the new SEPA products in parallel would prove a costly business for payment providers. In addition, setting clear deadlines for the migration to SEPA would send a strong signal that SEPA is an irreversible process. It would provide certainty and allow for the appropriate planning of SEPA migration, as well as the attribution of the necessary budgets. It would also raise awareness regarding the SEPA project.
Some, in particular users, however underlined that some conditions should be met before such end-dates could be set. These conditions include the need to have products of high quality which would fully meet users' needs and at reasonable prices. For them, deadlines for SEPA migration should moreover not be set before SDD products are made available and before users have the opportunity to use them during a certain period of time.
A number of respondents nevertheless considered that there was no need for such end-date(s). The main reason put forward was that SEPA migration should not be imposed on the market. It should, in their view, be a market-driven process, respecting payment service providers' freedom of business, as well as users' choices.
There are also diverging views on the causal link between the fixing of an end date and the pace of migration: some consider that fixing of a migration end date would accelerate migration and others consider that setting an end date could be only be envisaged once a certain level of migration has been reached.
Support for a Regulation at European level, with some flexibility
A majority of respondents also indicated their preference for a regulation at European level so as to provide a clear signal to market participants that SEPA migration was now irreversible. Some however emphasised the need to associate all stakeholders to the decision-making process for the success of SEPA.
The end-date(s) should be set at European level, according to most of the respondents, but with some flexibility allowed at national level to set earlier end-dates in order to take into account the specificities and degree of readiness of each market.
A large majority of respondents also considered that an end-date should be set separately for, respectively, SEPA credit transfer and SEPA direct debit, since both schemes were not launched at the same time and do not have the same level of maturity. One common end-date would on the contrary entail the risk of delaying SCT migration.
Scope of the end-date
A large majority of respondents stressed the need for a migration covering not only payment transactions between banks, but also the retail side of the market and payment transactions between customers and banks.
Some also pointed out that not all legacy payments should necessarily migrate to SEPA payments. In some markets, some legacy instruments indeed present specific functionalities, due to historical or legal reasons, which are not available within SEPA schemes, which makes SEPA migration more difficult.
In its 11 March resolution, the European Parliament has expressed strong support for establishing an end-date and has called upon the Commission to come forward with a proposal.
The Commission will discuss this matter with Member States before taking a decision on how best to proceed.
Véronique Margerit serves as Seconded National Expert with the European Commission, DG Internal Market & Services.
Other articles in this issue
30.10.09 Update EPC Plenary Meetings - Main decisions taken in September 2009 By Gerard Hartsink 30.10.09 Creating smart SEPA Solutions - New EPC Publication: SEPA for IT Providers By Meral Ruesing 30.10.09 Going all the Way - EPC guidelines on customer reporting of SEPA Credit Transfers and SEPA Direct Debits By Eric Veronneau 30.10.09 Ready or not... - SDD roll-out possible in case of delayed national PSD implementation By Ruth Wandhöfer 30.10.09 Refunds and Returns revisited - Questions and answers on the correlation between the PSD and the SDD Schemes By Kevin Brown 30.10.09 The X Factor - Are EU governments still committed to making SEPA a reality? By Gerard Hartsink 30.10.09 SEPA Roadmap: how to make SEPA a Success - European Commission Communication on "Completing SEPA: a Roadmap for 2009-2012" By Daniela Umstätter 30.10.09 Yes we can - Part II - Belgium: a case study in successful migration to SEPA By Benoît Lempkowicz and Anne Demelenne 30.10.09 Facing the Facts in October 2009 - The EPC Newsletter tracks the progress of SEPA implementation By Herman Segers 30.10.09 Cashing out - National Central Banks commit to optimise cash handling in SECA: a progress report By Leonor Machado 30.10.09 EPC launches SEPA Direct Debit Schemes - European payments industry confirms commitment to making SEPA a reality By Gerard Hartsink 30.10.09 Better Business with SEPA Direct Debit - Corporate customers confirm benefits of SEPA implementation By Christian Westerhaus 30.10.09 The linking Pin - EPC and GSMA kick off public consultation on Trusted Service Manager requirements By Dag-Inge Flatraaker 30.10.09 New SEPA Scheme Rulebooks out now - EPC publishes new versions of the SCT and SDD Rulebooks on 1 November 2009 By Herman Segers
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