The first thing to say is that Ardbrook software is SEPA ready. So, if you want to move today from your current EMTS payments to SEPA payments we can help with the transition.

What is SEPA?

The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is made up of all the EU member states, as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It is an area in which you can make and receive payments in euro, under the same basic conditions, rights and obligations, regardless of their location, whether within or across national boundaries.

The consumer will be the major beneficiary of SEPA, which will offer greater choice of service, competition and flexibility. A consumer wishing to pay for services within any of the European countries involved in SEPA, (i.e. utility bills or maintenance on property abroad, etc.), may now do so using one domestic bank account, eliminating the need to open a separate overseas account. It also means that people who live, work or study outside their own country may use their account in their home country to complete all their transactions.

Customers will also be able to use the same payment card for all euro payments within the participating countries making the use of cards more efficient. The primary aim of SEPA is to enhance the provision of all electronic payment services to the customer – this will open up the market to services such as e-invoicing, e-ticketing, mobile and internet payment initiatives, etc., all designed to make the payment process less time-consuming and simpler for the customer.

The migration of bank customers from the current Electronic Money Transfer System (EMTS) format to the SEPA format has started as you will notice the terms BIC and IBAN appearing on invoices etc. in place of the existing sort code and account number. For SEPA to be successful it needs the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the Irish government to create the right conditions.

The European Payments Council (EPC) is the banking co-ordination body in relation to payments. The EPC has delivered the necessary SEPA payment schemes and frameworks to build the integrated euro payments market (SEPA Credit Transfer, SEPA Direct Debit and the SEPA Cards Framework).

On 1st November, 2009 the Payment Services Directive (PSD) was enacted in Ireland and throughout the EU. This Directive ensures that the same legal framework applies to all payments made within Europe whereby businesses and consumers can make payments easily, cost-effectively and efficiently. The PSD establishes the necessary legal framework for SEPA payments and also applies to existing national payment products. The PSD was enacted in Ireland as the European Communities (Payment Services) Regulations 2009.
SEPA will provide a simple and cost-efficient way to collect funds using a single payment instrument across European countries. SEPA will also provide the certainty of payment completion within a pre-determined time cycle, as well a straight forward reconciliation of payments received.

SEPA will also provide the ability to automate exception handling for events such as returned, rejected or refunded collections and reversals.

The introduction of the ISO 20022 XML message standards – the SEPA data format – should significantly reduce the costs currently associated with the maintenance of different national payment formats and related IT standards, including system administration.