A large majority of respondents in favour of setting end-date(s) to stimulate 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 credit transfers and direct debits. The project holds much promise in terms of improved efficiency, dynamism and competitiveness of the European economy. Offering both the legacy and the new products in parallel would prove a costly business for payment providers. In addition, setting clear deadlines for the migration to would send a strong signal that is an irreversible process. It would provide certainty and allow for the appropriate planning of migration, as well as the attribution of the necessary budgets. It would also raise awareness regarding the 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 migration should moreover not be set before 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 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 migration was now irreversible. Some however emphasised the need to associate all stakeholders to the decision-making process for the success of .
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 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 payments. In some markets, some legacy instruments indeed present specific functionalities, due to historical or legal reasons, which are not available within schemes, which makes 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.
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