The aim is to ensure the migration takes place smoothly, avoiding problems in the normal receipt and payment operations between individuals and companies. The two systems will coexist during this extension period, as some companies have already adopted their in-house processes for generating debits and transfers under the new European regulations.
SEPA is an initiative started up some years ago to facilitate cross-border banking operations. This project sets out a common standard that allows collections and payments abroad in the same conditions as in the state scope, something which will optimize the process, bring down costs associated with international commissions and, in general, improve how the market works.
There are 33 countries that must adapt to the new schema: the 28 European Union Member States, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Monaco. This translates as 20 million businesses and public bodies, in addition to all citizens belonging to these places that have a bank account.
According to data from Rankia, in November 2013 only 64% of transfers were made following the model set forth by SEPA. In the case of direct debits or standing orders, the figure dropped to 25 %. For this reason, the Commission has designated this 6-month margin in which, although the SEPA schema is mandatory, transfers and direct debits in the older formats are still accepted.
However, the European Union stresses that it is essential for companies to carry out this adaptation as soon as possible if they wish to continue to operate normally. To make this task easier, EDICOM has created the SEPA Platform, a solution for businesses that enables them to automate the process of setting up bank debits, in line with the XML schema in place for the Single Euro Payment Area. This software extracts the data from the ERP or financial management system, applies a transformation process to the XML format and certifies that the file contains the specific mandatory fields. The file is then directly integrated into the internal management system for forwarding to the banks, with acceptance totally assured.
The new format entails some changes, among them notably the limitation of the debit item to 140 characters. Until now, many businesses used this field to provide information related with billing or services, as the limit was 640 characters. However, with the SEPA this is no longer possible. So, EDICOM now additionally offers the Business@Mail application, which lets you publish electronic invoices in a secure web portal so that clients and customers can check these details.