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SEPA - 3 February 2014 progress: the sky has NOT fallen in, but end of month concerns

After the European Commission announced it was extending the transition period of SEPA for six months, there has been much debate and there have been various announcements across the region, including:

  • European Payments Council (EPC) issued a press release in which all parties involved are advised to proceed as usual and stick to the deadline of February 1: ‘In order for this additional transition period to become effective, this proposal introduced by the European Commission must be formally adopted by the EU co-legislators. This means: the European Parliament and the Council of the EU must take the necessary steps [...] The EPC recommended that all market participants in the euro area continue working towards meeting the 1 February 2014 deadline since the modification of the Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 has not yet been confirmed by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.’
  • countries that will not use the extended transition period: Slovakia - migrated on mass on February 1st; Finland - already use SCT and have just implemented SDD 
  • countries that will not use full 6 month extension: Belgium - limit to two months; Ireland - limit transition to March 31st; Spain - processing of legacy ACH transactions will not be possible post 17th March and post 9th June for legacy direct debit transactions
  • countries who have announced other limitations: Germany - legacy B2B Direct Debit scheme not permitted post 1 February, others permitted; Italy - all legacy  ACH transactions must be SCT compliant by 1 February, now legacy DD mandates allowed after February 28th, and corporates not allowed mixture of legacy DD and SDD; Luxembourg - no legacy DD mandates or DD payments post 1 February
  • other countries - France, Austria, Portugal, Netherlands: processing of legacy transactions will be permitted post 1 February however all markets have strongly reiterated the need for organisations to complete migrations to SEPA.

Further developments are a distinct possibility from several countries, but none announced on 3 February.

Progress 3rd February
A general e-mail enquiry to large-to-huge MNCs operating in Europe (who were all well prepared for SEPA), entitled ‘SEPA: It is 3rd FEBRUARY...............HAS THE SKY FALLEN IN???!!!’ , generated the following comments:

  • too many direct debit rejects; systems are processing them, but debtor banks rejecting for reasons that do not make any sense (two MNCs)
  • clear blue sky in London…and all seems well with SEPA!
  • relatively stable here for now as we were virtually 100% compliant on all the outgoing SCT (3rd parties and payroll) and SDD’s and also it is low volumes period, so not expecting problems; some small individual issues/failures  which are probabaly normal day to day errors; however, we do expect some issues on the incoming receipts later on in the month.

CTMfile take: This is surprisingly good progress(CTMfile may have to eat humble pie here), but the debtor banks unexpectedly rejecting direct debits still be could be a major problem that could take months to unravel. The concern by the corporate above (and held by many others) about incoming receipts later in February could also be major. 

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