Tomorrow is another Day

Tomorrow is another Day

SEPA Survey 2008: corporate community lacks sense of SEPA urgency

26 October 10

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Familiarity with is high, but readiness remains low

This survey was sent to Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), finance managers, cash managers and treasurers of corporates and public administrations in euro countries representing 97% of transaction volume. In particular, the members of the European Association of Corporate Treasurers and its subsidiaries in each country were invited to participate in this online survey. The results of the survey are in line with the findings of other studies on the subject yet also provide insight into the reasons behind these findings and alternative ways to address the issues exposed.

The Survey 2008 shows that across the euro countries investigated, familiarity is high (84%), yet this does not translate into concrete action. Most respondents have not started a team (79%) nor do they have a strategy in place (80%). Most common reasons for this absence are that other projects currently have a higher priority (38%). Even though most corporates agree with the statement that will have a major impact on daily payment processes (65%) and that offers major business opportunities (60%), a large share is unable to quantify the needed investments (42%) and the potential benefit (48%). Most corporates are thus unable (or do not see the need) to build a business case. The survey also found that 74% of respondents indicated that the solution offered by a bank was not acceptable for their company. The latter finding may be partially explained by the fact that customers expect solutions to work exactly like existing ones. implementation, however, will require change also on the customer side.

  • Familiarity in this study is identified as having heard of through to having a good knowledge of the project, e.g. familiarity is seen as the first phase towards awareness and readiness.
  • Awareness of is defined as being well informed about and acknowledging the impact has on payment processes, as well as being able to quantify and/or identify the potential costs and benefits that come with .
  • Readiness for is defined as having started or completed concrete actions in order to comply with the changing payments landscape. Ultimately, a corporate is only fully ready when all its current euro-domestic electronic payments are payments.

In addition, the Survey 2008 found that is not a prime topic of interest among corporate leaders, which seems to be caused by the lack of a sense of urgency due to the following perceptions:

  • The current situation for payments is better than what promises or is considered good enough.
  • The current services do not yet cover all payment instruments.
  • Payments as an organisational process within a corporate is always considered critical but hardly ever considered core business. In other words, without a clear incentive, other projects will always have priority.
  • There are currently no direct consequences for enterprises and public administrations that do not act on (failure to prepare does not involve breach of regulation).
How to create a sense of urgency

The essential question, therefore, is how to create a sense of urgency on the customer side. This can be done by emphasising the benefits of implementation or, alternatively, by focusing on the risks of failing to implement or by simply enforcing . Possible measures, among others, to increase the sense of urgency are:

  • Enforce implementation by some form of regulation (making the use of IBAN mandatory, for example).
  • Ensure timely adoption of the Payment Services Directive (PSD) in member states and availability of the Direct Debit.
  • Set an end date for domestic payment schemes.
  • Improve the product offerings for corporates to make a more compelling case.
  • Communicate clearly the benefits and implications of on an individual corporate level.
The first step: establish a dedicated team

Most importantly, corporates should become more proactive. As such, they should identify the implications of and prepare in a timely fashion to stay in control of the process. The findings of the Survey 2008 confirm that preparedness translates into motivation for change on the customer side. Those corporates that have started a dedicated team (compared to corporates without a team in place) anticipate an even greater impact from on daily payment processes yet also see more business opportunities. They are far better able to quantify the necessary investments and potential benefits, and are more ready to process payments.

Further dialogue between all actors in the process should therefore focus on developing means designed to increase the motivation of corporate decision-makers to actively address the subject.

The cross sector analysis of the survey also shows that the public sector is under-performing most other sectors regarding the level of familiarity, awareness and readiness. Apart from the political obligation that public organisations have to adopt at an early stage, their engagement is also essential towards creating critical mass, since public organisations traditionally take a substantial share of total electronic payment volumes. The next issue of the Newsletter to be released in April 2009 will feature detailed reports on the state of readiness of the public sector.

For a free download of the complete Survey 2008 please visit:

Taco de Vries and Eddy Ouwendijk are the authors of the Survey 2008. Mr de Vries is a principal consultant at Atos Consulting; Mr Ouwendijk is a senior manager at Deloitte.


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