SEPA 2.0: Reflections on Realising the Potential of SEPA Going Forward

SEPA 2.0: Reflections on Realising the Potential of SEPA Going Forward

SEPA roll-out so far suggests that there is room for improvement as regards alignment of policies and coordination among the EU institutions and governments driving EU integration in the area of payments

29 August 14

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The extensive research previously carried out by or at the request of the institutions confirms that “integration promotes competitiveness, efficiency and growth”

In a previous Newsletter article, entitled ‘On Innovation: What the European Union ( ) Could Learn from Apple and Facebook’ (see ‘related articles in previous issues’ below), we cited – by way of analogy – emerging media analyst Brian Solis: “The way Mark Zuckerberg runs Facebook is reminiscent of the way Steve Jobs ran Apple. It’s ‘We're not going to wait for customers to tell us what they want. We’re going to introduce what we think is in their best interest, and they will learn to love it.’”1 policies affecting more than 500 million citizens are created based on exactly the same principle (albeit perhaps with varying degrees of success compared to the endeavours of the companies named in the quote).

In the area of payments, policies generally reflect that “economic theory and empirical findings support the fact that integration promotes competitiveness, efficiency and growth” and therefore, “the process of integration should be considered beneficial."2

Once the policy-makers have determined a policy goal deemed to promote integration, the relevant institutions will normally produce a source designed to support their argument. These sources may reflect research carried out by the institutions, (see, for example, green papers, white papers, impact assessments or implementation reports related to legislation published by the European Commission), or studies conducted by third parties on their behalf. It should also be kept in mind that such research, generated by or at the request of the policy-makers, will be cited if the market would not evolve in line with the expectations defined therein. In this event, the authorities will often consider regulatory intervention to ensure that what they perceive as the greater European good is achieved.

Arguing the case for the harmonisation of the market for electronic euro payments, i.e. creation of the Single Euro Payments Area ( ), illustrates the point. is – first and foremost – a policy-maker-driven integration initiative. Over the past decade, the institutions have generated a host of research supporting their assumptions on the benefits to materialise once further integration of the euro payments market including a shift to increased use of electronic payment instruments is achieved. (Sources cited in this article are included in the ‘related links’ below.) To name just a few examples:

  • Capgemini (2007). : Potential Benefits at Stake. Researching the Impact of on the Payments Market and its Stakeholders: this study, which was carried out at the request of the European Commission, concluded: “SEPA holds a market potential of up to 123 billion euros in benefits (cumulative over six years) with a significant upside for all demand side stakeholders while allowing banks to retain current margins. (...) Consumers gain in all scenarios3 (...) Regarding the outcomes by country, 0.2 percent of [gross domestic product] GDP is at stake on average; for all countries the difference between the most and least aggressive scenarios falls between 0.12 percent and 0.22 percent of GDP.” The study identified as one of the main barriers to fully realising the benefits for all stakeholders the “lack of clarity about timing and deadlines” and “duplicate costs for running dual payment systems during transition”. (At the time of the release of this study, i.e. in 2007, the policy-makers had not yet engaged in considerations to establish mandatory deadlines for migration. Related legislation was only adopted in 2012.)
  • European Central Bank (2012). The Social and Private Costs of Retail Payment Instruments. A European Perspective: the objective of this study is “to enhance the general understanding of the social and private costs of different retail payment instruments from a European perspective, with the aim of helping policy-makers, banks and retailers promote efficient payments.” The European Central Bank report analyses the social and private costs of making retail payments in 13 European countries and discovers that they are substantial, amounting to around 45 billion euros, or almost one percent of their combined GDP. Due to the relatively high usage of cash, it accounts for nearly half of the total social costs. (Consequently, the study concludes that increased use of electronic payment instruments – a main policy goal of the initiative – would significantly contribute to reducing the social and private costs of retail payments.)
  • European Central Bank Working Paper (2013). Retail payments in the real economy: this research states that “within the boundaries of the approach of this paper, we also find an overall positive effect on a country’s GDP by 0.02 percent if instruments were effectively implemented and adopted.”
  • European Central Bank Occasional Paper (2013). Convergence in European retail payments: the authors of this paper conclude, among other things, that “there is evidence of convergence for the payment behaviours in European countries, and the convergence process has accelerated since the introduction of the single currency. However, payment behaviours have been slow to change and there are significant cross-country differences for card payments, credit transfers and direct debits. Despite this, it can be concluded that the payment markets are now less fragmented than they were before the introduction of the single currency and the creation of .” The paper also points out however, that the “single market for European retail payments has not yet fully materialised and neither have its benefits. This paper may serve as a useful tool for policy-makers and market stakeholders when predicting the future trajectories of the European retail payments market."4

One would assume that the existing extensive body of research provides ample evidence of the benefits expected to materialise once is achieved and allows the policy-makers to consider the most appropriate next steps aimed at supporting market participants to actually realise these benefits (which will not happen overnight). However, in the view of the European Commission, this is apparently not the case.

The math according to the ‘Economic analysis of ’ (February 2014), compiled by PwC at the request of the European Commission: a critical analysis

In February 2014, PwC published its ‘Economic analysis of . Benefits and opportunities ready to be unlocked by stakeholders’. The report was compiled at the request of the Commission’s Directorate General Internal Market and Services which had asked PwC to estimate the ongoing benefits of “once fully embraced”.

The ‘Regulation ( ) No 260/2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro’ (the Regulation), which details the compliance requirements, allows for transitional arrangements, i.e. exceptions, in Member States until February 2016 regarding several provisions included in this legislative act. It requires non-euro countries to comply by October 2016. (For more information on the subject, refer to the Blog, entitled ‘The Long Road to Harmonisation: Transitional Arrangements in European Union Member States Permissible Under Regulation 260/2012’ included in the ‘related links’ below.) The assumption is that the expression “once fully embraced” used in the PwC study therefore, refers to the period after 2016.

PwC finds that , (“once fully embraced”), “will potentially lead to 21.9 billion euros in annual savings” to the benefit of stakeholders. In addition, “SEPA may unlock 227 billion euros in liquidity and credit facilities” and “973,000 man years that are currently involved in various steps of the payment and reconciliation processes.”

The first element that surprises the reader analysing the PwC report is its goal: is it necessary that we have in 2014, more than a decade after the institutions and governments launched the initiative, an assessment of the benefits that will bring to the European society? Were these not clear enough at the beginning? Were all other studies and analyses not reliable so that it is worthwhile spending more public resources on assessing the sensibility and suitability of ?

If this is the new viewpoint of the European Commission, a further question is why the PwC analysis had to be conducted in a hurry? “Given the scope and short timeframe of the study,” it is stated in the report, “the Commission and PwC agreed to develop a high-level benefit calculation populated with readily available market data variables”. Under these constrained circumstances one may regret not having enjoyed more time as the limitations of the study may weaken it and, consequently, make it less suitable to convince interested readers about its purpose, whether the launch of was a reasonable policy decision and whether it is profitable in the long term from an overall European societal perspective.

The total quantifiable direct recurring annual benefits, according to PwC: 21.9 billion euros

Entering into the details of the study, the most visible conclusion is the size of the quantifiable direct recurring annual benefits: PwC finds, among other things, that “will potentially lead to 21.9 billion euros in annual savings” to the benefit of stakeholders (not to mention the indirect, not quantified benefits, and the other benefits). Human beings are not very apt to bear in mind these astronomical figures: 21,900,000,000 euros. To help the reader, this means about 50 euros per inhabitant per year. (The outcome of dividing the total population of the 16 countries, which are object of the PwC study, into the 21.9 billion euros of expected savings, approximately. It is worthwhile remembering that, according to PwC, these benefits would only materialise once is “fully embraced” which presumably means not before 2016/17)5.

The PwC study adopts a “calculation model (…) built bottom-up” which “takes as input a diverse set of data sources, parameters and assumptions”. A check against other studies on the same subject might help. In particular, it is worthwhile confronting the PwC study with the European Central Bank report, entitled ‘The Social and Private Costs of Retail Payment Instruments – A European Perspective’ mentioned above, given its proximity in time and scope6. Focusing on the two payment instruments which are specific to , the credit transfer and the direct debit7, the European Central Bank study provides an estimation on their cost to society: the inference from the sample used by the European Central Bank – 13 European countries – is that those two instruments represent a total social cost of 0.22 percent of the relevant GDP. When this percentage is applied to the 16 countries analysed by PwC, the result is of about 26.6 billion euros.

The cost savings calculated by PwC (21.9 billion euros) represent 82.3 percent of this amount (here, again, the GDP of the 16 countries represented in the PwC study is considered, 12.1 trillion euros, compared to the 13.0 trillion euros of the complete ). This would mean that could get rid of 82.3 percent of the total cost of making payments today thanks to gains in processing efficiency (“once fully embraced”). One needs not be a “sceptical pragmatist” as the one described in the PwC study to be cautious about the magnitude of this assertion.

A look at the benefits projected by PwC to be realised by specific stakeholder groups

The authorities driving the programme have consistently articulated that migration to harmonised payment schemes and technical standards will increase choice, and consequently, competition in the payments market to the benefit of all payment service users including consumers. This expectation has been confirmed by previous research conducted on the subject. The PwC ‘Economic analysis of ’ however, concludes “that not everyone will benefit from in equal measure. It is mostly the corporate sector, but banks too, that will reap the economic rewards.”

(It will be interesting to see how the European Commission will interpret the PwC statement that the immediate effect of results in a shift of wealth from consumers to corporates. If the PwC predictions were confirmed, this would mean that would counteract a principal policy objective consistently emphasised by the Commission and the European Parliament, i.e. to strengthen the position of consumers.)

Consumers in will be subject to an “upward price pressure”, according to PwC

PwC predicts that as a result of the roll-out of , smaller banks will disappear or exit the payments market which would trigger a decrease of competition in local areas where consumers are served. (Why such a development is assumed, remains anyone’s guess.) According to PwC someone will have to explain to consumers that this will induce “an upward price pressure due to reduced competition in this market segment”. The only direct benefit for consumers based on the integration of the euro payments market identified by PwC stems from “improved consumer protection” resulting from legislative acts related to payments adopted in the past years.

Total recurring annual benefits for businesses, according to PwC: 13.2 billion euros

A closer look at the benefits to be reaped by businesses – as identified by PwC – is also worthwhile. In the 16 countries analysed in the PwC study, there are 4,490 large multinational companies, 328,028 small-cap (mid-size) companies and 16,180,775 local business and public companies which together would benefit from a total of 13.2 billion euros in savings annually thanks to . However, these savings are distributed very differentially.

A large company will enjoy average annual savings of 71,838 euros, which amounts to about 0.3 billion euros for the sector. A small-cap (mid-size) company is expected to generate savings in the amount of 22,922 euros, and the compounded impact accrues to 7.5 billion euros.

More than 16 million small businesses will enjoy average annual savings of 395 euros (marginally above 1 euro per day, to make it meaningful). The total amount of projected annual savings for the small businesses segment is about 6.4 billion euros which is sizeable but poses a question: is this euro per day susceptible to being saved? As the PwC study also recognises, instead of hard-money savings, these businesses will save time to devote to other activities, like credit management: “time saved by company is very limited, the time freed is likely to result more into a reallocation of resources within firms rather than a reduction in the labour force”. Whether this time is translatable into money is arguable.

For those who love arithmetic, it must be said that the savings per type of business segment, (0.3 billion euros annually for the large coporate sector, 7.5 billion euros annually for the small-cap sector and 6.4 billion euros for the small business sector), add up to 14.2 billion euros. This is not exactly the 13.2 billion euros stated with the summary of the PwC report, but it is not easy to spot why there is a discrepancy between the detailed figures and the summary.

Total recurring annual benefits for , according to PwC: 5.9 billion euros plus “release of an additional 9.3 billion euros in credit and liquidity”

The PwC report also analyses the impact of on . PwC recognises that “not all banks will be successful”; many may not be able to “cover their investments”; especially “local (…) banks will have less opportunity to improve process efficiency or expand their volume to recoup their investments”. How many will be affected? This is hard to answer as the numbers used in the study lead to confusion. Apparently, the study identifies “6,895 banks and within the -16” which are not homogeneous, obviously, in those 16 countries.

The participant registers8 maintained by the European Payments Council ( ) show that as of April 2014, 4,614 offer Credit Transfer ( ) services. As of April 2014, 3,939 have signed up to the Direct Debit ( ) Core Scheme. As of January 2014, 3,491 also adhere to the Business to Business Scheme. Consequently, there is a gap of more than 2,300 between the figure stated in the PwC report and the actual number of participating the and Schemes today. This may be one of the most elusive statistics included with the study; related figures depend on what is being counted. Are, for instance, foreign branches included in the calculation? What definition of ‘ ’ is retained? Not minding these x-factors, PwC estimates a staggering “reduction in operational expenses with a net total of 5.9 billion euros” annually for the sector as a result of the introduction of as well as the “release of an additional 9.3 billion euros in credit and liquidity.”

The fact is that if there is an error in this assumption the whole calculation may be wrong due to a flawed extrapolation. As there is not enough detail in the “appendix 1: methodology and assumptions” included with the PwC report, one might speculate that this is a source of inaccuracy in the calculation of the savings, at least in relation to banks, via extrapolation as both current and future savings may have been exaggerated for this stakeholder group.

The extrapolation of “total quantifiable recurring annual benefits” for stakeholders identified with the PwC report disregards the costs incurred to implement

The authors of the PwC study “have not considered the costs incurred by the various stakeholders before February 2014”, i.e. the investment required by market participants on both the demand and supply sides to align operations and processes with the compliance requirements determined by the lawmakers. It could be argued that this omission renders the entire ‘Economic analysis of ’, presented by PwC in February 2014, useless. To be meaningful, the study should specify that the projected net benefits will only be realised once the costs incurred to achieve compliance are amortised.

The question of whether the investments required to enjoy the savings are of the scale of the tens or the hundreds of euro billions is relevant. From a financial perspective it may make sense to invest 50 billion euros to get a yearly return of 21.9 billion euros, but it would not if the potential-best-case-scenario return is of a mere 5.9 billion euros. So it would have been interesting to have an estimation of the investments incurred by businesses of all sizes, the public sector and as they are allegedly benefitting from annual cost reductions in the amount of 13.2 billion euros, 2.9 billion euros and 5.9 billion euros, respectively, “once is fully embraced”.

Comment on the “conclusions and recommendations” on the way forward offered with the PwC ‘Economic Analysis of ’ requested by the European Commission

The “conclusions and recommendations” of the PwC study point out that the “most obvious outstanding issues after 1 February 2014 will be the continued use of local niche products and non- compliant products.” As mentioned above, related transitional arrangements in Member States are permissible under the Regulation ( ) No 260/ 2012 as adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the representing Member States in February 2012. The Regulation also specifies that such transitional arrangements are only permissible until February 2016. Hence, in this regard, the “conclusions and recommendations” offered by PwC indeed repeat the obvious, i.e. compliance requirements defined by the co-legislators.

The single recommendation provided by PwC related specifically to technical standards is this: “regulators will need to enforce further standardisation of messaging” with regard to the use of the ISO 20022 message standards. From the perspective of the , it would be debatable whether the regulator is the most appropriate party to define specifications of messaging standards used to process payments.

PwC concludes: “We highlight the recurring benefit as encouragement – or the carrot – to complete the project that started 12 years ago with the adoption of the Lisbon agenda for a more competitive Europe.9 (...) Whether or not will deliver on its promises is now largely up to businesses and banks, although politicians also have a say in its success by mandating farther-reaching standardisation.”

This author concurs that , like any other dynamic development, is – and will always continue to be – a work in progress. The PwC ‘Economic Analysis of ’, requested by the Commission, unfortunately, has little, if anything, to contribute to the ongoing debate on the most appropriate steps by all parties to achieve ‘ 2.0’. The most slippery implication of the study would be to derive that businesses and banks have been blind and have not been able to recognise the direct economic benefits delivers.

On a general note: demonstrating potential benefits possibly to materialise for market participants proved an inefficient means to incentivise ‘voluntary’ engagement in the process from the start. Coming up with disputable figures reflecting “total quantifiable recurring annual benefits” as “carrots” to complete the process has become redundant since the lawmakers, in 2012, established mandatory deadlines for migration to through Regulation. If the aim of the PwC study is to strengthen the morale among the millions of market participants required to invest in adapting their systems and operations to comply with the requirements determined by the lawmakers, it comes two years too late for the vast majority of stakeholders in the euro area who completed the task by 1 February 2014.

The has repeatedly pointed out that – like any other integration project aimed at generating macro-economic and systemic benefits – was not launched and will not be concluded as a result of market forces. It requires the political will and mandate to achieve it. (For details, refer to the Website, entitled ‘ Legal and Regulatory Framework’ included in the ‘related links’ below.)

Last but not least, the ‘Economic analysis of ’ launched by the Commission is years behind the times considering that dialogue on what is commonly referenced as ‘ 2.0’ encompasses several aspects and developments not analysed in the PwC study. The regulators will also claim a major role in determining the outcome of this debate. To give an example: in January 2012, the European Commission published its Green Paper ‘Towards an integrated European market for card, internet and mobile payments’ for a three month consultation. The aim of the green paper, according to the Commission, is to identify the obstacles that potentially prevent integration in this area. The Commission stated that the contributions to the consultation determined the need for action on the various issues raised in the green paper and the form this action should take. The Commission’s conclusions on the matter are reflected also with the ‘payments legislative package’, including its proposals for a revised Payment Services Directive ( ) and a new Regulation on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions, published in July 2013. (To learn more about the ’s key considerations with regard to the Commission’s green paper and its proposal for , refer to the ‘related links’ below.)

Realising the potential of going forward: the perspective

Following the European Commission proposal, communicated on 9 January 201410, to give the option to continue processing non- formats in the euro area during an extra six-month transition period after 1 February 2014, recognition of what had actually been achieved by that date fell somewhat flat. According to data made available by the European Central Bank (see ‘related articles’ below), the vast majority of stakeholders in the euro area were expected to have achieved compliance with the Regulation by 1 February 2014. Meeting this milestone has been a tremendous effort for everybody on the demand and supply side. In the view of the , congratulations are in order. The industry is proud to have contributed, together with all other stakeholders, to realising this unique integration project launched by the institutions and governments more than a decade ago.

Realistic targets, taking into consideration customer preferences, should be agreed with regards to progressing market integration

This author recalls that the political drivers of the programme, i.e. the European Parliament, the European Commission, the governments represented in the Council of the and the European Central Bank, had considered full migration to and , as the precondition to creating efficient and innovative euro payment services. The Newsletter has frequently highlighted the testimony of representatives of corporates, small and medium-sized enterprises, public administrations and government agencies, who reported on their successfully completed migration projects (see ‘related articles’ below). Early adopters on the demand side did not identify the “quantifiable direct recurring annual” cost reductions projected with the PwC ‘Economic analysis of ’ however, they demonstrate that this investment leads to significant benefits. These include, among others: streamlined internal processes, lower IT costs, reduced costs based on bank charges and a consolidated number of bank accounts and cash management systems. In short, migration to results in more efficiency and integration of an organisation’s payment business.

This being said, it has to be kept in mind that – or integration – is not an end in itself. It is an interim stage that should not be judged on the direct outcomes, but on the situation it leaves for the market to reap further benefits. Realistic targets, taking into consideration customer preferences, should be agreed with regards to progressing market integration. Payment habits and business models established on both the demand and supply sides will only change gradually once is achieved.

There is room for improvement as regards alignment of objectives, policies and projects among the institutions and governments responsible to manage the process

The experience of roll-out so far also suggests that there is room for improvement as regards alignment of objectives, policies and projects among the institutions and governments responsible to manage this policy-maker-driven integration project.

To give just the most recent example of the prevailing lack of coordination and communication among the various public authorities involved in the process: as mentioned above, on 9 January 2014, the European Commission unilaterally introduced the proposal for a new Regulation amending the Regulation to “give an extra transition period of six months during which payments which differ from the format can still be accepted” in the euro area after 1 February 2014. About an hour after the Commission had publicised this proposal with a press release, the European Central Bank issued a press release11 which stated: “The Eurosystem12 (…) stresses that the migration end date of 1 February 2014 remains and urges all market participants to complete the transition of all credit transfer and direct debit transactions to the standards by this date.” However, the co-legislators, i.e. the European Parliament and the Council of the representing governments13, endorsed the Commission’s proposal and, following a frenzied legislative process, in February 2014 adopted the ‘Regulation ( ) No 248/2014 amending Regulation ( ) No 260/2012 as regards the migration to Union-wide credit transfers and direct debits’. This Regulation came into force on 21 March 2014 with retroactive effect from 31 January 2014. (For more information on the subject, refer to the ‘related links’ and articles below.)

During the legislative process, the European Central Bank warily commented: “The proposed regulation [amending Regulation ( ) No 260/2012] has given rise to confusion in the markets on the deadline for migration and thus there is an urgent need for clear guidance.”14 In the absence of that guidance from the authorities, market participants subject to legislation determining compliance requirements were left to their own devices trying to figure out what applies when and how and where.

Even if accepting that ‘all’s well that ends well’, such situations should be avoided in the future either by anticipating potential implications earlier or by improving coordination. Whether or not will deliver on its potential depends, at this stage, on the authorities re-instating – and adhering to – a harmonised vision of who should do what (when) to achieve ‘ 2.0’. Clarification of the matter has now been pending for several years.

In this regard, the following item highlighted by the on previous occasions needs to finally be addressed:

New overarching governance structure: Recital 5 of the Regulation ( ) No 260/2012 (the Regulation published in March 2012) states that the European Commission should (bold added) “review the governance arrangements of the whole project before the end of 2012 and where necessary make a proposal. This review should examine, inter alia, the composition of the European Payments Council ( ), the interaction between the and an overarching governance structure (…) and the role of this overarching structure.”

On 19 December 2013 the European Central Bank announced the launch of the Euro Retail Payments Board ( ). This new entity, which replaces the Council15, will “help foster the development of an integrated, innovative and competitive market for retail payments in euro in the ”. (For more information on the , refer to ‘European Central Bank Web Page: Governance’ included in the ‘related links’ below). According to the information made available by the European Central Bank, “the European Commission is invited to join the as an observer”. In any event, the suggests that going forward duplication of efforts carried out by the on the one hand and, possibly, the Commission on the other be avoided.

The remains committed to contributing to the creation of an efficient and secure payments landscape, which responds to market needs and looks forward to continuing the dialogue with all stakeholders and the authorities driving the programme on the next steps.

Javier Santamaría is the Chair of the .


Related links:

PwC Press Release (14 February 2014): ‘SEPA Saves €22 Billion and Unlocks €227 Billion in Liquidity’

PwC (February 2014): ‘Economic Analysis of SEPA. Benefits and Opportunities Ready to be Unlocked by Stakeholders’ 

Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro 

Regulation (EU) No 248/2014 amending Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 as regards the migration to Union-wide credit transfers and direct debits 

EPC Blog (March 2013): The Long Road to Harmonisation: Transitional Arrangements in European Union Member States Permissible Under Regulation 260/2012 (the SEPA Regulation) 

Capgemini (2007): SEPA: Potential Benefits at Stake. Researching the Impact of SEPA on the Payments Market and its Stakeholders’

European Central Bank (2012): The Social and Private Costs of Retail Payment Instruments. A European Perspective 

European Central Bank Occasional Paper (2013): Convergence in European Retail Payments 

European Central Bank Working Paper (2013): Retail payments in the real economy 

European Commission (2012): Green Paper 'Towards an Integrated European Market for Card, Internet and Mobile Payments' 

EPC Response to European Commission Green Paper 'Towards an Integrated European Market for Card, Internet and Mobile Payments' 

European Commission (2013): Payments Legislative Package 

EPC Blog (March 2014): PSD2: EPC Identifies Considerable Scope for Amendments of the Proposed New Set of Rules Related to the Activity of Third Party Payment Service Providers Offering Payment Initiation or Payment Account Information Services 

EPC Blog (April 2014): PSD2: The New Article 67, (‘Refunds for Payment Transactions Initiated By or Through a Payee’), Proposed by the European Commission Risks Undermining Consumer’s Unconditional Refund Right for Direct Debits Included with the SEPA Direct Debit Core Scheme

EPC Website: SEPA Legal and Regulatory Framework 

European Central Bank Web Page: Governance 

EPC Publication: Shortcut to Who Does What in SEPA 


Related articles in this issue:

Join the Debate on the Further Evolution of the SCT and SDD Schemes: Less Flexibility, More Harmonisation? An overview of the options, variations, exceptions and exemptions possible in SEPA today

Next Generation SCT and SDD Rulebooks: Three-Month Public Consultation Starts on 19 May 2014. All stakeholders are invited to provide feedback on possible modifications to the SCT and SDD RulebooksText

Migrating Deadlines: Pushing Back the Migration Date for SEPA Credit Transfers and Direct Debits. Will the Amending Regulation cause great confusion in the European payments market?

AkzoNobel: “We Have Already Seen a Return on Our Investment into SEPA Migration through the Benefits We Have Received”. AkzoNobel began using IBAN in 2010 and fully launched its SEPA implementation programme in October 2012 in readiness of the February 2014 deadline

From Theory to Practice and What Comes Next? Challenges and Opportunities After More than a Decade of SEPA in the Making. A commentary: “Like all major new economic initiatives, SEPA needs time to find its feet and achieve all it set out to accomplish.”

Don’t Count on 1 August 2014: Different SEPA Migration Deadlines Apply Across the Euro Area During the “Additional Transition Period” Agreed by the European Commission, the European Parliament and EU Governments. EPC recommends that organisations in the euro area still working towards achieving SEPA readiness complete the migration process as soon as possible 


Related articles in previous issues:

Newsletter: Case Studies Highlighting Successful SEPA Migration Projects of Bank Customers (Series Started April 2011) 

SEPA 2014: EPC Calls on European Parliament and EU Governments Represented in the Council of the European Union to Provide Clarity on SEPA Compliance Requirements As Soon As Possible. On 9 January 2014, the European Commission introduced a proposal to effectively postpone the deadline for compliance with Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 from 1 February 2014 to 1 August 2014 ( Newsletter, Issue 21, January 2014)

Research by the European Central Bank Explores the Progress of Payment Integration in Europe. Main findings of the European Central Bank report 'Convergence in European retail payments' ( Newsletter, Issue 21, January 2014) 

SEPA Facts and Figures (January 2014): “If the Current Pace of Migration Continues, the Vast Majority of Stakeholders Will Complete Their Migration by 1 February 2014,” Says European Central Bank. EPC recommends that organisations in the euro area still working towards achieving SEPA readiness complete the migration process as soon as possible ( Newsletter, Issue 21, January 2014) 

SEPA Fact Check: The SEPA Benefits Projected by EU Governments, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Central Bank (1999 - 2013). SEPA is an EU integration initiative driven by EU governments and the EU institutions. Note: the European Payments Council is not part of the EU institutional framework ( Newsletter, Issue 20, October 2013)

The 2013 Euro Payments Outlook: Communication by the European Commission on its Vision for SEPA 2.0 Remains Pending. Reflections on the merit of European Union regulatory action aimed at promoting integration, competition and innovation ( Newsletter, Issue 17, January 2013) 

What Happens Next? European Authorities to Communicate Their Vision for SEPA 2.0 by End 2012. EPC looks forward to learning more about the authorities´ views on the continued merit of creating harmonised payment schemes and frameworks in the cooperative space of payments ( Newsletter, Issue 15, July 2012) 

Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems' Working Group Publishes Report 'Innovations in Retail Payments'Central bank research identifies market trends and elements geared to assessing what an innovation-friendly environment should look like ( Newsletter, Issue 15, July 2012) 

EPC Response to the European Commission Green Paper 'Towards an Integrated European Market for Card, Internet and Mobile Payments. 'EPC identifies key policy considerations with regard to potential European Union initiatives impacting the euro payments market ( Newsletter, Issue 14, April 2012) 

On Innovation: What the European Union Could Learn from Apple and Facebook. Reflections on the evolution of SEPA in the new regulatory reality governing the euro payments market ( Newsletter, Issue 14, April 2012) 

Innovacompegration (This is Not a Typo). Reflections on the best approach to innovation, integration and competition in payments ( Newsletter, Issue 10, April 2011) 

Newsletter: Articles Published in the Section ‘Focus: On Integration and Innovation’ 


Time Magazine, This Is Your Life (According to Your New Timeline). What Facebook's new profile page tells us about the battle for control over the Internet. 13 February 2012.

Newsletter (January 2014): Research by the European Central Bank Explores the Progress of Payment Integration in Europe. Main findings of the European Central Bank report ‘Convergence in European retail payments’. (See ‘related articles in previous issues’ included with this article.)

The Capgemini study ‘ : Potential Benefits at Stake. Researching the Impact of on the Payments Market and its Stakeholders’ extrapolated expected benefits based on four different migration scenarios. For details, refer to the study included in the ‘related links’ underneath this article.

Newsletter (January 2014): Research by the European Central Bank Explores the Progress of Payment Integration in Europe. Main findings of the European Central Bank report ‘Convergence in European retail payments’, op. cit.

The PwC study covers sixteen countries within the which “represent 94 percent of the total euro-denominated transaction volumes in the and 97 percent of the euro-denominated transaction values”, and also comprise about 450 million inhabitants and account for, approximately, 12.1 trillion euros of GDP, or 92 percent of the total GDP.

It is a pity, and a surprise, that the European Central Bank paper is not listed in the “appendix 2: Literature and sources” of the PwC study.

Cards, according to page 14 in the PwC study, were not analysed as it is stated that they “are more related to the cards framework, which is closely related but not included in the scope of this study”. For more information on the Cards Framework developed by the , refer to the Website page, entitled ‘ Cards’:

The Participant Registers, which list the participants taking part in the and the Schemes, are available here:

The Lisbon Strategy, also known as the Lisbon Agenda or Lisbon Process, was an action and development plan devised in 2000, for the economy of the European Union between 2000 and 2010. Its aim was to make the "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion", by 2010. It was set out by the European Council in Lisbon in March 2000. (Source:

10 European Commission press release (9 January 2014)

11 European Central Bank press release (9 January 2014)

12 The Eurosystem comprises the ECB and the national central banks of the Member States whose currency is the euro.

13 The Council of the is the institution where the Member States’ government representatives sit, i.e. the ministers of each Member State with responsibility for a given policy area.

14 European Central Bank: Opinion of the European Central Bank of 22 January 2014 on a Proposal for a Regulation on the Postponement of Migration Date

15 In 2010, the European Commission together with the European Central Bank established the Council, which brought together representatives from both the demand and supply sides of the payments market, including the European Payments Council ( ). The Council promoted the realisation of an integrated euro retail payments market by ensuring high level stakeholder involvement and by fostering consensus on the next steps towards the finalisation of .

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