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SEPA: Keys to the single payment area

19/12/2013

SEPA (single euro payments area)

 

Five years ago, the European Union (EU) launched the SEPA (Single Euro Payment Area) initiative so that private individuals and businesses from any country would be able to carry out their financial operations in the same conditions, regardless of their location. A new system that will allow, for example, international transfers with the same commissions to any country that is part of the project, in other words, the 28 EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Monaco.

The deadline for migration to this new scheme runs out on February 1, 2014, although due to the changes involved, until last October only 6% of European businesses had adapted to the SEPA criteria, according to reports from the Central European Bank. We must bear in mind that this single payment area affects different company departments, such as systems, finance, sales or human resources. However, switching over to this standard is essential for companies to be able to engage in their usual billing and payment operations next year.

 

What changes are involved in the Single Euro Payment Area?

  • The bank account will now be identified by the IBAN (International Bank Account Number), instead of the CCC used up to now.
  • It will be necessary to use XML format (SEPA 20022 ISO) to exchange files with banks.
  • With a single account it will be possible to manage all payments and collections carried out with any country in the SEPA area.
  • Commissions for cross-border payments will be the same as for the equivalent domestic operations.
  • Companies will need authorization from their clients/customers (mandate) to issue invoices and charge the payments to their accounts. The mandate is the single code linking the debtor with the issuer of the debt.
  • Receipts paid by standing order will be replaced by SEPA direct debits, for which there are two different schemes:
  • Basic or CORE (for companies and private individuals), which function in a very similar way to current direct debit receipts.
  • B2B (for businesses and self-employed), which has much lower return periods than the current scheme (2 working days).

 

What are the advantages?

The main beneficiaries of the SEPA will be the multinational companies operating in different markets within the single payment area, although SMEs will also find advantages in this initiative, which makes their electronic processes more efficient and makes it easier to operate in the international scope if necessary.

We can summarize the benefits of the SEPA in these three points:

  • Lower costs associated with the standardization of processes and the difference in fees among the different banks in Europe.
  • Centralization of cross-border payments and collections, which means greater efficiency.
  • Fewer payment delays.

 

What is the EDICOM solution?

EDICOM has created a solution for businesses and individuals which fully automates the bank debit generation process, in line with the new XML SEPA schema required by the European Union.

This software takes the data from ERP or financial management system, applies a transformation process to the XML format and automatically certifies that the file contains the fields specified as mandatory. The file is then directly integrated with the internal management system for sending to the banks, with acceptance totally assured.

Further information on the EDICOM SEPA Platform.

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