24 January 2013
Aiming for minimum compliance
“Six out of ten European treasurers are satisfied by just achieving basic SEPA compliance on February 1, 2014. Their main goal is that no payment instructions are rejected after that date.”
This is one of the surprising outcomes of a research conducted by EuroFinance, recently announced on CFO.com. A much smaller part of the respondents (just over 25 per cent) indicates that they are looking to derive additional efficiencies out of SEPA.
This attitude seems to be a direct result of the late preparations for the SEPA conversion. A striking 52 per cent of corporate treasuries affected have not yet begun serious work on their SEPA transition. Of this group, one in eight hasn’t even started to evaluate options or developing plans.
The article quotes a number of anonymous finance professionals, who are aiming for minimum compliance: “The transition has been hampered because there was no firm deadline in place for the mandatory introduction of SEPA, until February 2012 […]. It’s difficult to put forward a business case when there is no legal requirement to comply and no big commercial gain to be had.”
In just over one year from now, SEPA will be up and running, and the corporate treasurer and his company will take another look: “Will there really be a single market in terms of execution of transactions? If yes, then we will move to the next stage.”
As the transition date approaches, it is not hard to imagine that more businesses will lower their ambition when it comes to SEPA. However, this undermines the basic idea of the common European payments area: to increase efficiency through standardisation and increased competition.
Organisations that only aim for minimum compliance will have to take into account that they might not be able to reap the benefits of SEPA once it is put into practice.