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ECB Urges Companies to Complete SEPA Migration by Third Quarter

March 21 (Bloomberg) -- The European Central Bank warned that companies are running out of time to implement payment structures that are in line with region-wide standards.

“A number of companies have adopted very late internal deadlines” to migrate toward the Single Euro Payment Area, or SEPA, the ECB said today in a report. “This is a source of concern,” it said. “More worryingly, small and medium enterprises’ and local public administrations’ awareness of SEPA is still fragmented and the level of preparedness is rather poor.”

SEPA enables customers to make euro transfers across borders within Europe using a single payment account and a single set of payment instruments. Thirty-two European countries are participating in SEPA.

Companies have until Feb. 1 2014 to migrate to SEPA credit transfers and SEPA direct debits, the ECB said. It urged all stakeholders to make the transition “at the earliest stage possible, preferably by the third quarter of 2013 at the latest,” to avoid disruption in the handling of payment orders.

“Adapting to SEPA involves adjusting a lot of technical and business procedures over a limited period of time,” ECB Executive Board member Benoit Coeure said in a statement. “Projects of this kind should not be left to the last moment.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jana Randow in Frankfurt at jrandow@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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