Fabian Demicoli

Being SEPA Ready!

 GRTU has this week teamed up with the European Commission Representation in Malta, the Central Bank of Malta and the Malta Bankers Association and held a concise and easy to understand information campaign about the Single Euro Payments Area and how businesses should prepare for it.

 

The meeting was very successful with a high level of participation and very positive response from participants. During the meeting we explained that the aims of SEPA are very positive for businesses. It aims to establish a modern and comprehensive set of rules applicable to all payment services in the EU. It targets to make cross-border payments as easy, efficient and secure as ‘national’ payments within a member state. SEPA should improve competition by opening up payment markets to new entrants, thus fostering greater efficiency and cost reduction, these are big plusses for business.

All retail payments in euro will become domestic eliminating any differentiation between national and cross border payments. One home account will become sufficient for all domestic and cross-border euro-denominated payments throughout SEPA. This is important as currently when dealing with companies in other Member States they request that you open an account in their Member State as well.

Consumers also enjoy fast, secure and streamlined SEPA services – a SEPA payment is credited to the beneficiary’s account at the latest one day after execution date.

Payment management processes will become simplified, facilitating easier reconciliation and bank account management. Savings will be made on costs and time as payment and liquidity management will be consolidated in one location.  In addition there will be greater transparency in the pricing structure and comparable costs of payment services between banks across EU. Something we are particularly pleased with as GRTU.

The deadline by which everyone has to be SEPA complaint is 1st February 2014. The following changes will come into affect:

 

 For Direct Debits new mandate formats will need to be used and new debtor rights are stipulated by SEPA (no questions asked right for refund)

 

 Domestic account number format (BBAN) will be replaced by International Bank Account Number (IBAN).  The BIC (swift code) will need to accompany the IBAN until 1st February 2016)

 

 For companies using SEPA Direct Debits there will be the introduction of a new Creditor Identifier and this needs to be accompanied by a Unique Mandate Reference.

Companies that use cheques or internet banking to make individual payments have limited changes to make. However companies using bundled data for making  payments or accepting direct debits need to perform more preparations and they should therefore act urgently.

The meeting conclusions were that the deadline for SEPA migration is fast approaching, February 2014, just 5 months away, so work has to start now. Businesses should start placing their IBANs and BICs on their invoices and they were advised not to leave preparations to the end for testing purposes and to speak to their banks and software providers that will assist them throughout the whole process.

 

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