Finance ministers give strong backing for SEPA

The Council is to decide on the legal framework for setting up an integrated market for payment services in the eurozone by 2010. A study suggests, however, that not all banks are ready for implementation.

Finance ministers are to boost the Single European Payments Area (SEPA) on 10 October 2006 at the Council meeting in Luxembourg. The aim is to make all “cross-border payments as easy, cheap and secure as national payments within one member state by creating a euro-wide network”.

The new directive, known as the “New Legal Framework“, is intended to create a more efficient and competitive payments market and thus to benefit consumers, who could save on basic banking costs, which currently range from 34-252 euro per year.

Marc Temmerman, Vice-President of Visa Europe describes this as a “strong signal” in a statement to Bloomberg.

But the 2010 target deadline, as set out by Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, is a worry for banks. 

A study by Logica CMG shows that banks across Europe are concerned over the timeline, with the first deadline for the implementation of rules for SEPA-card payments being 2008. The institutions feel that they are not well prepared for the first deadline, which means that they could miss out on the opportunities resulting from SEPA’s introduction.

The European Parliament is expected to vote on the New Legal Framework later in October 2006.

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