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The SEPA migration speeds up

The SEPA migration speeds up

Ingrid van den Berg

Senior account executive

27 January 2014

The SEPA migration speeds up

While we are approaching the original SEPA deadline of February 1st, the transition is speeding up rapidly. At the end of December 2013, 74 per cent of credit transfers in the euro area were already SEPA-compliant, in November that was 64 per cent. Of all EU direct debits 41 per cent was SEPA-compliant, instead of 26 per cent in November. These new statistics from the European Central Bank (provided by national central banks) show that the migration to the Single Euro Payments Area gathered pace in December. The ECB states that if the current pace of migration continues, the vast majority of stakeholders will complete their migration by February 1st, the original deadline.

These numbers seem to be in contrast with the proposal of the European Commission to postpone the deadline of SEPA with six months. The proposal was based on the SEPA statistics from November where the SCT was only 64 per cent and SDD 26 per cent. The European Council and the European Parliament have to agree before the deadline is actually extended. It is expected that the European Parliament will adopt the proposal on February 3rd, which means that the regulation will have a retroactive effect from January 31st. 

Complete transition

The ECB doesn’t support the advice of the European Commission on postponing the migration date. “The ECB urges all market participants to continue their current migration pace and complete the transition of all credit transfer and direct debit transactions to the SEPA standards by February 1st 2014”, according to its press release.

The bank urges everyone to complete the transitions on time in order not to regret getting caught up in the confusion after the proposal of the Commission. The ECB published its official opinion on the proposal for a regulation on the postponement Thursday on its website.

On January 14th 2014 the European Central Bank (ECB) received a request from the Council of the European Union for an opinion on the proposal. According to Mario Draghi, the president of the ECB, the most recent information from the communities suggests that the pace of migration is high and accelerating, indicating that the vast majority of stakeholders will complete their migration on time. His second observation was that the proposed regulation created confusion in the markets on the deadline for migration and thus producing an urgent need for clear guidance. “A further concern is the lack of legal certainty in the event that the proposed regulation is only adopted after the current deadline.”

Fast adoption

The ECB states that it is therefore of the utmost importance to reinstate legal certainty, reduce the confusion in the markets and provide the EU citizens with clear guidance about the deadline. “These objectives can best be ensured by a fast adoption of the proposed regulation by the Council and the Parliament, without any further alterations to its core elements.”

With these objectives in mind, the ECB proposes changes that “aim at (a) clarifying the scope of the proposed regulation (the introduction of an additional transitional period, by way of derogation) and its justification (SEPA migration is unlikely to be fully completed by 1 February 2014) and (b) aligning the terminology of the proposed regulation with that of Regulation (EU) No 260/2012, and (c) ensuring that the effect of the transitional period on the imposition of penalties is made clear.”

SEPA credit transfer and direct debit – Evolution of euro area migration (percentage of total transactions)











The indicators of the usage of SEPA credit transfers and SEPA direct debits as a percentage of all credit transfer transactions in each country can be found on the website of the ECB. 

Below are the percentages of SCT on a national level:









Below are the numbers of SCT for the none-euro area countries:





Below are the percentages of SDD on a national level:









In Estonia and Finland, the legacy direct debits will primarily be replaced by SCT-based e-invoicing solutions. Latvia joined the euro area on 1 January 2014. As a new euro area country, Latvia officially has one year to complete the migration to SCTs and SDDs (migration deadline is 1 January 2015).