by Dieter Stynen, Head of Cash Management Corporates (CMC), Western Europe, Deutsche Bank
In an ideal world, I would love to be writing an article reassuring treasurers and finance managers that migration to SEPA payment and collection instruments is straightforward, that the project is the same for every company and can also be safely implemented within a short time period. I’d like to tell people that, as the end date for domestic credit transfers and direct debits is still nearly a full year away, they still have plenty of time. Sadly, I cannot do so. SEPA migration is an urgent, challenging and substantial undertaking – every project will entail different challenges, impact a large number of stakeholders and time is flying by rapidly. This article outlines why companies should be prioritising SEPA migration as a matter of urgency, and some of the factors that contribute to a successful project.
A shift in corporate motivation
For banks such as Deutsche Bank, SEPA preparations began as soon as a vision of harmonised payment and collection instruments across the Eurozone was first outlined in 2001. This meant that we were among the first banks to process SEPA Credit Transfers (SCTs) when they were launched in 2008, and SEPA Direct Debits (SDDs) in 2010. From the very beginning, we have been – and indeed remain – proactive in providing information, education and practical advice to customers throughout Europe and beyond, in order to help them plan their migration project. An example is our well-received Ultimate Guide to SEPA Migration, which provides very detailed advice and support, and we are building on this with the upcoming release of an XML Checker, which will enable customers to validate their file formats.
The relatively low proportion of SCT and certainly SDD transactions (30.6% and 2.1%, respectively according to ECB statistics, November 2012) would suggest that, despite efforts to emphasise the importance and immediacy of migration, corporates have shown relatively little motivation for migration. However, with the end date for domestic credit transfers and direct debit schemes now less than a year away, we are seeing a shift. Customers are now proactively seeking information on SEPA and practical advice on adoption.