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New scoring opportunities with SEPA

New scoring opportunities with SEPA

Michael Steinbach

CEO equensWorldline

24 June 2015

New scoring opportunities with SEPA


It’s a well-known phenomenon: when people move to a new house, they arrange it according to their plans, but there always remain finishing touches to be done. Lighting, rearranging cupboards, boxes that need to be unpacked, but disappear to the attic. The same risk applies to SEPA. To the outside world it looks like SEPA is done, but within the financial sector we know better as SEPA is far from completed.

Transferring money from one euro country to another via a bank is still a complicated affair, certainly when you compare this to solutions from non and near banks such as PayPal. SEPA formats still differ from country to country and even from different banks in the same country. At Equens we process over 140 different SEPA formats on a daily basis. The efficiency and cost advantages envisaged by SEPA also have not yet materialised. And – last but not least – commercial opportunities for banks in other SEPA-countries are far from explored. In the meantime competition by non-banks is increasing, at least when you see how they receive attention in the media for again another efficient way to pay. Nevertheless I firmly believe there is still a lot more potential if the traditional banking community and service providers start working on a harmonised end-to-end SEPA payment system.

And there is a concrete occasion to join forces, namely the development of real-time payments for low value credit transfers. The ECB and the Euro Retail Payments Board (ERPB) have commissioned the EPC to come up with a business model. Admitted, it’s a costly operation, certainly for one bank. But it is a ‘must have’. The future simply is real-time and competition is working on it too. In this respect I welcome the agreement that was reached in London on 17 June to coordinate plans relating to the use of ISO 20022 for real-time payments as a highly encouraging breakthrough. It is an important step towards a global standard.

It is just one example of the benefits and opportunities SEPA can bring to the banks and their partners. But there is work to be done. And I am convinced that the most efficient and effective way to do this is to team up with other banks and/or with a service provider in stead of each bank trying to solve each topic alone. The traditional financial industry still has a very strong position. A recent survey by ING for instance, shows that more than eight out of ten respondents trust their bank’s payment app, while only 5% trust apps from other providers. Let’s benefit from this lead and build it out!

More information about this is available at the website.