Cash & Liquidity Management
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From Regulation to Catalyst for Change: Findings of the SEPA Workshop

Findings of the SEPA Workshop

by Helen Sanders, Editor

One of the best attended workshops during the Cash Management University organised by BNP Paribas was on the topic of SEPA migration, moderated by Richard Delvaux, Director, PricewaterhouseCoopers. The workshop focused on the migration experiences of two major BNP Paribas customers, GDF Suez and AkzoNobel, with commentary from Luca Poletto, Head of SEPA at BNP Paribas Cash Management, and Andreas Knopf, Managing Director of BPI Business Process Integration GmbH. The workshop had two key objectives: firstly, to what extent companies are able to leverage SEPA as an opportunity as opposed to simply a compliance project; secondly, the major areas that require attention for a successful SEPA project.

Importance of the SEPA end date

Luca Poletto, BNP Paribas Cash Management, emphasised that the SEPA migration end date of 1 February 2014 in the SEPA countries is a binding commitment, at which point existing domestic credit transfer and direct debit schemes will cease. To achieve this, every entity operating in a Eurozone country needs to be ready to migrate its entire volume of transactions to the new schemes. This is a particular challenge bearing in mind that migration rates to date remain very low: according to the most recent figures (November 2012) 30.6% of credit transfers were under the SCT scheme 2.1% of direct debits were under the SDD scheme (source: ECB).

The scale of the migration challenge should not, therefore, be underestimated, particularly as projects typically take 6-12 months, particularly for larger remitters; therefore, all companies should be starting immediately to achieve the end date. While it is easy to ‘wait and see’ in case the end date could be delayed, there has been no indication to this effect, and there is strong motivation across the banking, regulatory and political community to migrate promptly.