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Grasping the SEPA Opportunity

by Cédric Derras, Head of Cash Management Corporates, Deutsche Bank France

SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) has dominated the treasury media and banks’ collateral for many months, often discussing the characteristics of the SEPA payment instruments and changes to the legal framework. However, the clock is now ticking as we rapidly approach the migration deadline of February 2014. By this time, organisations in the Eurozone will need to have migrated from existing payment instruments to SEPA Credit Transfers (SCT) and SEPA Direct Debits (SDD). Consequently, theoretical discussions must now be transformed into practical projects: the issue is no longer when to migrate to SEPA, but how.

Current migration status

In France, many large corporations are further ahead in their SEPA plans than in other markets. French treasurers have actually always looked at multi-bank and multi-country solutions and in many cases, the need to migrate from ETEBAC to alternative connectivity solutions such as EBICS or SWIFT has helped in developing a SEPA strategy. However, in France, and even more so in other markets, projects have often remained at the planning stage and now need to move into a practical phase.

In many companies, treasury professionals have developed a high level of expertise in SEPA compliance requirements, and are now looking for advice and solutions to manage the migration process, drive process efficiency and maximise the benefits. For example, by standardising payment and collection methods across the Eurozone, treasurers and finance managers are keen to understand the opportunities for centralisation of payments and collections, standardisation of processes and technology, efficiency optimisation and bank account rationalisation, as well as increasing cash visibility. These themes have been priorities for treasurers and finance managers for some time, and will continue to be so, long after the SEPA migration end date. However, a SEPA project can be a catalyst for change, an opportunity to deliver on these objectives and offer additional value to the business.