ECB Calls for Extended Timetable for SEPA

April 11, 2011

The European Central Bank (ECB) recently urged the European Commission (EC) to delay concrete end-dates for the implementation of new payment instruments under the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) project. In December, the European Commission proposed the banking industry move to new EU-wide credit transfers and direct debits by the end of 2012. The ECB, which had initially been calling for a yearend 2012 date for credit transfers and a shift to direct debits the following year, has reiterated its call for an extended timetable in its formal response to the European Commission’s December paper. “Taking into consideration the payment industry’s need for sufficiently long lead times, the ECB suggests setting concrete dates, which could preferably be at the end of January 2013 for credit transfers and the end of January 2014 for direct debits,” according to the central bank. The ECB is also calling on Brussels to provide clear guidance on the regulation of debit interchange fees. In 2009, the EC introduced a temporary default interchange fee for cross-border direct debits, together with a temporary endorsement of national interchange fees for direct debits.