Time is of the Essence: Get Ready for SEPA. Act Now!

Time is of the Essence: Get Ready for SEPA. Act Now!

Market participants in the euro area must achieve compliance with the core provisions of the European Union Regulation (EU) 260/2012 by 1 February 2014

29 October 12

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This video (released in March 2012) highlights key aspects relevant for business and public entities transitioning to . The film is also available in an extended version (eight minutes) and with subtitles in the languages. See 'The Migration Tool Kit' below.

Early movers confirm that migration to Credit Transfer and Direct Debit is beneficial but requires careful planning. Act now!

On a general note, it has been clear for more than a decade that the European Union (EU) authorities expect national legacy euro credit transfer and direct debit schemes to be replaced by harmonised Single Euro Payments Area () Schemes, with a view to promoting the further integration of the internal market and completing the monetary union. The legislative process leading to the adoption of a Regulation at EU level, which effectively establishes mandatory deadlines for migration to , started in December 2010 and has been extensively covered in the Newsletter. When the EU legislator, in February 2012, adopted the 'Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro and amending Regulation (EC) No 924/2009' (the Regulation), this did not come as a surprise. The Regulation (see 'The Migration Tool Kit' under 'related links' below) defines 1 February 2014 as the deadline in the euro area for compliance with its core provisions. Effectively, this means that as of this date, existing national euro credit transfer and direct debit schemes will be replaced by Credit Transfer () and Direct Debit (SDD).


TUI Travel PLC

"The Direct Debit Scheme is another step forward towards treasury efficiency."

The Finance Service Centre for the TUI Travel Accommodation & Destinations sector completed migration to Credit Transfer in 2010 and migration to Direct Debit Business to Business in 2012 ( Newsletter, SEPA Case Studies, Issue 16, October 2012)


Consequently, market participants in the euro area need to ensure compliance with the 1 February 2014 deadline for migration to harmonised payment schemes established with this EU Regulation. Implementation of the Schemes and technical standards has its challenges, however these are comparable to the challenges inherent to the implementation of other major change programmes. The market - both on the demand and supply sides - has ample experience in managing such projects. Early movers on the demand side confirm that migration to the Schemes and technical standards generates tangible benefits. According to the Indicators, compiled by the European Central Bank (ECB) (see 'related links' below), close to 30 percent of all credit transfers generated by bank customers in the euro area in August 2012 were SCTs. is kicking in and it is working.

The supply side of the euro area payments market rolled out and SDD services early, not only as a result of political expectations but as mandated with previous EU regulatory action: since 1 November 2010, all payment service providers () in the euro area reachable for national direct debits must be reachable for cross-border direct debits; e.g. the Scheme, as mandated by Regulation (EC) No 924/2009 (Article 8).

The Regulation however, affects not only , but also payment service users () such as corporates, small and medium sized enterprises, public administrations and government agencies. This article focuses on actions required by in the euro area who have yet to initiate the process aimed at achieving compliance with the Regulation by 1 February 2014.

Article 16 of the Regulation permits individual Member States to extend the deadline for compliance with some of its provisions to 1 February 2016. It is however, strongly recommended that analyse the impact of the Regulation on their day-to-day operations now, even if Member States opt to make use of the derogations permissible under Article 16.


Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance

"Following implementation of the payment schemes and standards, we are able to save about 15 million euros annually thanks to improved cash flow."

The Ministry started processing Credit Transfer payments in 2008 and Direct Debit Core payments in 2012 ( Newsletter, SEPA Case Studies, Issue 15, July 2012)


Plan the process: the scope of the changes is extensive

On 29 February 2012, the launched a five part blog series which highlights the lessons learnt by early movers on the demand side handling major payment volumes who have already successfully concluded migration to and SDD (see 'The Migration Tool Kit' below). In February 2012, these pioneers - who started migration planning as early as 2007 or 2008 - unanimously recommended that organisations which have yet to adapt systems and operations to the Schemes and technical standards, become active immediately. At the time of publication of the October 2012 edition of the Newsletter, this is no longer a recommendation but an imperative: any organisation which has yet to take the steps required to achieve compliance with the Regulation by 1 February 2014 must act now. There is no time to procrastinate further. have to implement significant changes to their operational models. They have to invest in system upgrades, testing and staff training. The scope of the changes is extensive.

To illustrate the point: Deutsche Post Pension Service Business Division started its migration project in early 2009 and essentially completed the process in June 2011. The division disburses 25 million pension payments per month on behalf of the public German retirement scheme, to retirees residing in Germany and abroad. In January 2012, 22.5 million of these payments were SCTs. Stefan Scheidgen, Head of Cash Management and Accounting at Deutsche Post Pension Service Business Division, pointed out in January 2012 that launching the migration project in 2012 "probably means that availability of external resources will be restricted. It also needs to be kept in mind that the migration project does not only impact the accounting and treasury departments, but the entire organisation and administration." To ensure readiness by the deadline set with the Regulation, he advised (in January 2012): "If you are a small or medium-sized business: plan one or two weekends for your accounting staff to convert master data and ensure budget is available to manage amendments to the IT system. If you are a bigger company (more than 5,000 master data records and more than three IT systems): Run! This means you must act now."

To emphasise the urgency: early movers on the demand side who implemented both and SDD and who have reported on their migration experience in the Newsletter (see ' Case Studies' included with 'The Migration Tool Kit' below), opted for a two step approach. They first focused on implementing ; migration to SDD was concluded in a second step. Based on this phased approach, it took on average two years to complete the migration process. In other words, it requires about twelve months implementing one scheme following the planning phase. Organisations which have yet to kick off the process, must progress implementation of and SDD in parallel, considering that there are only 15 months remaining to meet the migration deadline in the euro area established by the EU legislator.

Plan the process. Actions required and best practice:
  • Draw up a consistent plan for compliance. Migration to Schemes and technical standards is beneficial, but requires careful planning. The relevant actions and resources must be identified now. Banks and other service providers are making available the tools required to facilitate the transition.
  • Analyse the impact on operational models and systems. Identify which changes are required to achieve compliance.
  • Create a dedicated implementation team and appoint a full time project manager. The team should include members of the IT, payment, legal, and accounting departments. Other team members should be involved subject to their specific business activities.

Anneli Seppälä, the Payment Processing Manager of Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, recalls: "In October 2007, we set up a dedicated work team of our payment experts to analyse which changes would be required within the organisation in order to migrate to . This research also identified the staff to be appointed to the Kela implementation team. Based on this analysis, we developed a very specific project plan which led to the start of the actual Kela project in May 2008." Kela disburses payments to the majority of the Finnish population. The institution manages more than one hundred different types of benefits and compensation schemes. The annual value of benefits and compensations amounted to approximately 12.2 billion euros in 2010. Kela makes some 33.3 million payments annually, which include 250,000 cross-border payments. The organisation sent its first payments in May 2009. In 2010, Kela disbursed some 21.6 million SCTs and concluded its migration project at the end of this year. Anneli Seppälä adds: "It proved very important to have a full time project coordinator."


Villeroy & Boch

"The Credit Transfer and Direct Debit Schemes work very well for us. Our figures demonstrate that the benefits resulting from migration to the Schemes and standards exceeded the investment in the first year alone. The earlier you start, the better."

The group completed migration to Credit Transfer in 2008 and migration to Direct Debit in 2011 ( Newsletter, SEPA Case Studies, Issue 14, April 2012)


Get ready for the International Bank Account Number and the Business Identifier Code

project managers representing early movers on the demand side who have successfully concluded migration to and SDD, identified the conversion of customer account data to the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and the Business Identifier Code (BIC) as one of the main challenges in the process. The Regulation mandates to provide the IBAN of the account that should be credited or debited and, where necessary, the BIC of the account-holding . The Regulation stipulates that will not have to provide the BIC for national transactions after February 2014. The Member States however, have the option to extend this deadline to February 2016. This 'IBAN only' rule will apply for cross-border transactions after February 2016. The lawmaker introduced the 'IBAN only' rule at the last stage of the legislative process leading to the adoption of the Regulation. The 'IBAN only' rule effectively overwrites the and SDD Schemes, which since their inception have relied on the provision of both the IBAN and the BIC. Early movers on both the supply and demand sides have already completed the transition to IBAN and BIC. The recommends that for the time being, businesses and public administrations continue to collect the BICs related to customer accounts taking into consideration the following:

  • The February 2014 deadline for application of the 'IBAN only' rule for national transactions could be extended at the level of Member States to February 2016.
  • The BIC will be required for cross-border transactions until 2016, as specified in Article 5 of the Regulation.

The Regulation also states that Member States may allow to provide consumers with conversion services for national payment transactions, enabling consumers to continue using the national account identifier (Basic Bank Account Number - BBAN) instead of the IBAN, until 1 February 2016.

Get ready for IBAN and BIC. Actions required and best practice:

It is recommended that businesses and public administrations preparing for the conversion of account data to IBAN and BIC, take the following steps:

  • Review invoicing and accounting procedures.
  • Identify and adapt all systems that operate on the basis of account numbers and bank codes.
  • Define standardised processes for cross-border payments to add missing IBAN and BIC codes.
  • Provide easily accessible information on IBAN and BIC to business partners and customers. This includes, for example, updating invoices, stationery and other documents used to communicate account information to others.

Stefan Scheidgen, Head of Cash Management and Accounting at Deutsche Post Pension Service Business Division, comments: "The division converted all customer account data to the BIC and the IBAN in 2009. Correct customer account data is the precondition for timely and reliable disbursement of pension payments every month. We had national bank account numbers and bank identifiers for some 24 million accounts on file, which we had to convert to IBAN and BIC. The transition of customer account data worried us most, given that mistakes would have resulted in the inability to execute a pension payment. Obviously, the recipients of these payments cannot be expected to tolerate any mistakes. We therefore managed the conversion of the account information in two steps: firstly, in the fall of 2009, all bank account related data was automatically converted and validated using tools developed by the German banking industry and recommended by Bundesbank [central bank of the Federal Republic of Germany], such as the 'IBAN-Service-Portal' and the ' Account Converter'. In a second step, we verified and tested the converted data with every bank and group of banks with whom we cooperate. In fact, prior to migration in the live environment, each future payment was run through multiple test phases. Thanks to the great performance of our migration team and the support of cooperating banks, we were able to ensure a very high level of quality (about 99.99 percent) in the process of converting account data to IBAN and BIC."


Deutsche Post Pension Service Business Division

"In the process of migrating to , we consolidated the previous four payment systems into one. We plan to further automate our banking processes, based on the implementation of Schemes and standards, which will result in even more efficiency."

The company essentially completed migration to Credit Transfer in 2011 ( Newsletter, SEPA Case Studies, Issue 13, January 2012)


Get ready for the ISO 20022 message standards

Early movers on the demand side also identified migration to the ISO 20022 message standards as a challenge. The Regulation states that must ensure that where a "that is not a consumer or a micro-enterprise, initiates or receives individual credit transfers or individual direct debits which are not transmitted individually, but are bundled together for transmission, the message formats specified in point (1)(b) of the Annex are used." Point (1)(b) of the Annex to the Regulation clarifies that the message formats referred to are the ISO 20022 XML message standards. Article 16 (5) of the Regulation, however, allows Member States to waive the requirement to use the ISO 20022 message formats for until 1 February 2016.

ISO 20022 is not only a suite of message standards but a procedure proposed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to develop message standards for all domains of the financial industry. ISO 20022 is a standard to develop standards, so to speak. The most innovative characteristic of ISO 20022 is its modeling methodology which decouples the business rules from the physical message formats. The models evolve with the business, while the formats evolve with the technology to benefit from the latest innovations. This results in the highest possible degree of automation, ease of implementation, openness and cost-efficiency. The ISO 20022 approach, therefore, offers a more efficient and faster way of developing and implementing message standards that serve as the basis for long term financial services solutions. For more information, visit the ISO 20022 Website.

The Regulation specifies that the ISO 20022 message standard "means a standard for the development of electronic financial messages (...) in accordance with business rules and implementation guidelines of Union-wide schemes for payment transactions falling within the scope of this Regulation." Union-wide schemes are, for example, and SDD. The guidelines referred to are, for example, the implementation guidelines published by the with regard to the and SDD Schemes. In the ISO process, business requirements are defined for all global markets. Different markets have different data needs. Thus, they may need to define their own version within the global standard, specific to its own situation. In this respect, the ISO messages have been adjusted to meet the requirements. The data formats as set out in the implementation guidelines are a subset of the global ISO 20022 standards. The role of the in defining the data formats therefore consists in identifying all necessary data elements for making payments as defined in the and SDD Rulebooks within the global standard. These and SDD implementation guidelines are available for download on the Website (see links to ' Credit Transfer' and ' Direct Debit' included with 'The Migration Tool Kit' below).

Get ready for the ISO 20022 message standards. Action required and best practice:

will have to make arrangements to adapt to the usage of ISO 20022 XML message standards in the customer-to-bank space in relation to files of payment transactions.

The ceramics manufacturing company Villeroy & Boch, headquartered in Germany and represented in 125 countries around the world, is a true pioneer. Villeroy & Boch embraced the vision early and moved swiftly. Dr Warncke, Group Financial Controller at Villeroy & Boch, comments: "We were fully aware that early movers have the most to gain, and therefore wanted to realise the benefits resulting from the harmonisation of the euro payments market as soon as possible." The group completed migration to in 2008 and migration to both and SDD Business to Business (B2B) in 2011. Villeroy & Boch processes some 175,000 credit transfers with a volume of 310 million euros and 25,000 direct debits with a volume of 75 million euros annually.

This player also anticipated the advantages of implementing the ISO 20022 message standards. Dr Warncke adds: "We executed our first ISO 20022 FileAct payments in August 2008. In the fall of 2008, 90 percent of our supplier payments were done through SWIFT using ISO 20022. The implementation of the ISO 20022 message standards reduces the complexities and application development times required to manage our payment architecture. Adapting to this global standard also allowed us to increase security and improve internal processes." To be specific, Dr Warncke outlines that the implementation of the ISO 20022 message standards has enabled Villeroy & Boch to achieve the following:

  • A wider set of structured and enhanced message information with the transaction, thereby raising the efficiency in end-to-end automation.
  • Reduced application development times.
  • Decreased number and complexity of interfaces.
  • Reduced support and maintenance costs, by avoiding customised or proprietary formats.
  • Increased security.
  • Improved internal processes.

He continues: "Consequently, we could cut down the costs associated with the maintenance of different national data formats and related IT standards." Last but not least, Dr Warncke points out; it is "also very important to keep in mind that the ISO 20022 message standards are a global standard. Taking into account that Villeroy & Boch is a globally active company, we certainly aim to further harmonise our payment business, based on the ISO 20022 message standards." He concludes: "The and SDD Schemes work very well for us. I do however see room for improvement in the application of ISO 20022 message standards. ISO 20022 is the new language in payments. Nevertheless, we notice that there are quite a lot of different dialects of this language used across . Ideally, we would like to see fewer dialects and further harmonisation regarding the use of this standard. This would allow us to achieve even more efficiency gains with ISO 20022."


UNIQA Group Austria

"There are two main benefits for us associated with implementation: firstly, migrating to the harmonised payment schemes allows for more efficient account reconciliation; secondly, being able to collect direct debits throughout Europe using the harmonised Direct Debit Schemes is also a principal advantage for us. Business is better with !"

The company started its migration project at the beginning of 2008. The project covered transition to both Credit Transfer and Direct Debit ( Newsletter, SEPA Case Studies, Issue 12, October 2011)


Choose the right IT strategy

Stefan Scheidgen, Head of Cash Management and Accounting at Deutsche Post Pension Service Business Division, points out: "IT changes are needed to get master data and payment data streams ready - that is what everybody plans for. Other IT changes are required due to the implementation of migration tools, temporary converter solutions, changes related to mandate management and pre-notifications under the SDD Schemes and changes of interfaces in processes. The scale of IT investment mainly depends on the existing systems landscape. The age of the systems and capabilities need to be considered. In our experience, even mainframe applications can be ready while occasionally applications with more up-to-date technology might need some shared converting support. Change requirements for business processes also vary by industry and degree of automation. If you need to synchronise several external service providers, the picture could be very different than in an environment where you do not outsource. This huge regulatory change could also be an option to rethink and consolidate some of the investment requirements fully driven by regulatory changes."

Mikko Grönman, Project Manager at the Finnish Government Shared Services Centre for Finance and Human Resources (HR), comments: "We handled implementation as a stand-alone project; however we did take into consideration other IT projects in the pipeline. We opted to implement conversion services wherever possible to achieve -compliance of existing systems." Created in 2010, the Finnish Government Shared Services Centre for Finance and HR merges the activities of four separate shared service centres that previously existed to support individual ministries of the central government and the judiciary. The centre integrated and concluded implementation projects, first launched in 2009 by these four separate administrative entities. The centre provides financial administration and HR support for approximately 110 central government agencies, departments and funds as well as approximately 80,000 private employees. The total volume of payments processed annually amounts to some 80 billion euros (2010). The organisation essentially concluded migration to and the ISO 20022 message standards by the end of 2010.

As regards the use of conversion services to achieve compliance of the IT architecture, Mikko Grönman, explains: "There is a specific reason why this approach was chosen: in the years 2011 through 2014, the [Finnish] Treasury's so-called 'Kieku' IT programme is being introduced across all central government administrative entities. The objective of the Kieku IT system is to improve the efficiency and quality of operations with the help of uniform and streamlined processes, as well as to support the service centre model. This Kieku IT system was built taking into consideration requirements. We also had to take into account a further new IT programme being rolled out on the customer side to manage travel expenses. So, in essence, we focused on implementing solutions that allow us to continue using the systems currently in place." The conversion services used to achieve -compliance ensure that the functionalities introduced into the centre's existing IT architecture are compatible with other IT programmes rolled out in parallel. "Replacing existing systems by new systems would also have proven too costly," Mikko Grönman clarifies.

Anneli Seppälä, the Payment Processing Manager of Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, opted for this strategy: "The Kela project relied on the following premises: firstly, we decided to manage the entire process in house. Due to the fact that we appointed in house staff to upgrade all relevant IT systems, rather than to rely on external providers, we were in control of the process at all times. Secondly, our goal was to create long-term -compliant solutions rather than to rely on conversion services used to 'translate' legacy formats into ' lookalikes'. We also opted to implement the required web services and public key infrastructure (PKI) instead of choosing an interim solution. As a result, all Kela systems are compliant."

A phased approach regarding the decision whether to update existing systems based on conversion services or build new systems may also work very well. Stefan Scheidgen, adds: "I have been lucky that the strategic IT planning of the Pension Service Business Division was wise enough to provide a flexible solution that proved to be an enabler for the project. For some legacy master data systems we - as part of the project deliverable - still operate using some converter functionality. Migration of those legacy master data systems is scheduled already. The last significant replacement is currently underway and will be delivered by the end of 2012."

Choose the IT strategy. Actions required and best practice:

With regard to the adaptation of IT systems, project managers should consider whether to:

  • Adapt the existing IT architecture using conversion services.
  • Build new systems.
  • Coordinate IT adaptation in house or outsource.
  • Look beyond requirements and additionally consider initiatives such as e-invoicing, e-signatures, authentication of bank infrastructures and third party services, e-procurement and mobile payment services, for example.

The experience of early movers on the demand side demonstrates that choosing the best approach is subject to the specific situation of individual business and public entities. An important factor in the decision-making process is the current technical state of systems. In addition, interdependencies with systems of business partners must be analysed to ensure continued compatibility.


Finnish Government Shared Services Centre for Finance and Human Resources

"The Finnish State Treasury determined the timelines to be observed at the level of individual administrative branches to become -compliant. Taking into consideration the complexity of our operating environment, implementation was considered a challenge. These challenges actually increased our motivation to engage early."

The Centre essentially concluded its project by the end of 2010 and in a next step focused on the implementation of the ISO 20022 message standards in the bank-to-customer communication ( Newsletter, SEPA Case Studies, Issue 11, July 2011)


Get ready for and SDD

It is important to recognise that the business and technical requirements set out with the provisions of the Regulation are not stand alone requirements, but form part of the broader objective of migration to and SDD. The implementation of harmonised payment schemes will impact business and operational processes beyond the adaptation to new account identifiers and message formats.

The experience of project managers representing such as corporates, public administrations and government agencies, who have reported on their lessons learnt in the Newsletter, demonstrates that implementation of and SDD is equally feasible and manageable. practitioners among bank customers clarify that implementation of one Scheme is not more complex than the other, but each requires specific steps.

It is also very important to keep in mind that migration to the payment schemes and technical standards requires careful coordination with customers and business partners: to ensure seamless end-to-end payment processing, interfaces must be aligned.

Actions required with regard to the implementation of :
  • In addition to transitioning to IBAN, BIC and the ISO 20022 message standards, must provide the data elements referenced in Article 5 and detailed in the Annex to the Regulation with credit transfers.
  • will have to observe the specific features of the Scheme such as, for example, the standardised length of the remittance information: 140 characters of remittance information are delivered without alteration or omission from the payer to the payee. These 140 characters can be unstructured (free text) or structured, as agreed between business partners.
  • For a definitive source of information regarding the rules and obligations of the scheme, those interested should refer to the Rulebook and associated implementation guidelines available for download on the Website.
Actions required with regard to the implementation of SDD:
  • In addition to transitioning to IBAN, BIC and the ISO 20022 message standards, must provide the data elements referenced in Article 5 and detailed in the Annex to the Regulation with direct debits.
  • should bear in mind the validity of the mandates1. Article 7 of the Regulation, states that any "valid payee authorisation to collect recurring direct debits in a legacy scheme prior to 1 February 2014 shall continue to remain valid after that date and shall be considered as representing the consent to the payer's to execute the recurring direct debits collected by that payee in compliance with this Regulation in the absence of national law or customer agreements continuing the validity of direct debit mandates." This provision therefore, ensures that existing mandates under the Scheme continue to remain legally valid, thereby greatly contributing to facilitating the migration by bank customers to the SDD Scheme.
  • should take into account mandate checks to be performed by . Article 5 (3) (d) of the Regulation empowers a payer to be able to instruct its to take the following actions in respect of direct debit collections:  
    • To  limit a direct debit collection to a certain amount and/or periodicity.
    • To verify each direct debit transaction and to check whether the amount and periodicity of the submitted direct debit transaction is equal to the amount and periodicity agreed in the mandate (where the mandate under the relevant payment scheme does not provide for the right to a refund) before debiting their payment account, based on the mandate-related information.
    • To block any direct debits to the payer's payment account, or to block or authorise any direct debits initiated by one or more specified payees.

Although these mandate checking obligations do not apply where neither the payer nor the payee are consumers, they may nevertheless impact on . A consumer may instruct its to block all direct debits to its account or to 'black list' a specified biller by blocking direct debits initiated by it. Similarly, under Article 5 (3) (d) a payer may instruct its to only allow collections from a biller identified in a 'white list'. In the event that the biller is included on the 'black list', or excluded from the 'white list', the payment will fail. Billers should proactively advise customers paying by direct debit to unblock accounts. Customers, who make use of the option to specify creditors authorised to collect payments from their account, should ensure that all properly authorised creditors are included on this 'white list'. Customers, who choose to create a 'black list' naming creditors not authorised to collect payments from their account, should ensure that those creditors authorised to collect payments are not erroneously included on such a 'black list'.

  • must be aware that other requirements influence the usage of SDD. Some of the specific requirements to be observed with regard to SDD implementation relate to, for example, mandate management, the time cycle and exception handling. Billers collecting payments by SDD will also have to obtain a so-called creditor identifier, which relates to a legal entity, or an association that is not a legal entity, or a person assuming the role of the biller. The Newsletter features a series of articles supporting billers migrating to SDD, which detail these SDD requirements (see 'The Migration Tool Kit' below).
  • For a definitive source of information regarding the rules and obligations of the schemes, those interested should refer to the and the Rulebooks and associated implementation guidelines available for download on the Website.
Best practice to get ready for and SDD. Download the information made available with the Migration Tool Kit now

The and other organisations have developed a host of information and material to support market participants during the transition. The has created a dedicated page on its website where relevant material is available for download (see 'The Migration Tool Kit' below).


Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland

"Our experience confirms that our payment processes are more efficient following implementation."

The organisation concluded migration to Credit Transfer at the end of 2010 ( Newsletter, SEPA Case Studies, Issue 10, April 2011)


Never walk alone2: liaise with your National Coordination Committee and partner with your bank

Experience in countries which have achieved substantial progress with regard to migration demonstrates the importance of coordinating efforts at national level. Based on such a coordinated approach, Finland completed migration to and the ISO 20022 message standards by end 2011. In September 2012, the Belgian Steering Committee on the Future Means of Payment (the Steering Committee) published the fourth progress report towards in Belgium. Chaired by the National Bank of Belgium, the Steering Committee brings together all stakeholders impacted by the process: public administrations and government agencies, businesses, consumer associations and banks. The latest progress report towards in Belgium showcases impressive results. In July 2012, the share of SCTs in Belgium reached more than 58 percent of total credit transfers; the share of SDDs exceeded 15 percent. (For details, see the article 'Belgium: A Success Story' under 'related articles in this issue' below). To liaise with their National Coordination Committees, should consult country-specific information, including national migration plans and -related contact links, made available by the ECB (see 'ECB--by-Country Hub' with 'The Migration Tool Kit' below).

Last but not least, banks and other service providers stand ready to support during the transition to .

Get ready for by 1.2.2014. Act now!

Migration to the payment schemes and technical standards is beneficial. Meeting the 1 February 2014 deadline in the euro area established with the Regulation is manageable and feasible. The time to act, however, is now.

Javier Santamaría is the Chair of the .


Related links:

The EPC Migration Tool Kit: Get Ready for SEPA by 1.2.2014. Act Now!

European Central Bank: SEPA Indicators


Related articles in this issue:

TUI Travel PLC: "SEPA Direct Debit Scheme Is Another Step Forward Towards Treasury Efficiency". The TUI Travel Accommodation & Destinations (TUI Travel A&D) sector's Finance Service Centre completed migration to SEPA Direct Debit Business to Business in February 2012

Belgium: A SEPA Success Story. In Belgium, SCT migration rate is 58 Percent; SDD migration rate is 12 to 15 percent (July 2012)

SEPA Migration: Facts, Figures and Best Practice. The state-of-play in October 2012

SEPA Scheme Rulebooks: Next Edition Available in November 2012! The EPC publishes new versions of the SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit Rulebooks


Related articles in previous issues:

The Newsletter articles published in previous issues, which offer information relevant for market participants transitioning to the payment schemes and technical standards are included with 'The EPC Migration Tool Kit: Get Ready for SEPA by 1.2.2014. Act Now!' (see 'related links' above)

1 A mandate is signed by the payer to authorise the biller to collect a payment and to instruct the payer's bank to pay those collections. The mandate can be issued in paper form or electronically.

2 "You'll Never Walk Alone" is a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel. The song is also sung at association football clubs around the world, where it is performed by a massed chorus of supporters on match day; this tradition began at Liverpool Football Club in the early 1960s and later spread to several other clubs. (Wikipedia).


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