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CGI/FS Club Payments Survey Shows SEPA Compliance Still Slow

A CGI and Euro Banking Association (EBA)-sponsored payments survey carried out under the auspices of the Financial Services Club has questioned 422 participants from 47 countries and found that 79% of eurozone respondents are not yet ready for the single euro payments area (SEPA) end date of 1 Feb 2014, with 57% still in the planning phase.

The fifth FS Club ‘State of the European Payments Marketplace Survey’ which was previously supported by Logica, now CGI, was carried out during April of this year. It shows that the 422 participants from banks, corporates and payment processors are instead focusing on real-time payments and mobile channels as high growth alternatives to SEPA compliance. 36% of respondents participating in this year’s survey, unveiled at the EBAday show in Berlin, Germany on 21-22 May, were from banks and 32% were from the general finance sector, with some corporates included. Consultants and technology providers were the next largest groups to fill in the 2013 survey, representing over 26% of the votes.

The results show that mobile and real-time payments tops the priority list due to their high growth potential, with a huge 98% stating that mobile commerce is currently a priority, or will be in the next few years. The results clearly demonstrate the growing importance of mobile commerce in delivering easy to access services.

The lack of SEPA preparedness - with 11% of non-bank respondents adding that they believe SEPA direct debits (SDDs) cannot be delivered on time by the 1 February 2014 deadline - is a surprising finding considering that 68% of respondents still said they viewed SEPA as an opportunity with strong business benefits. There is an obvious disconnect here. However, previous surveys such as the gtnews Payments Survey of corporate treasurers and the European Central Bank’s (ECB) SEPA Indicators page have also shown a lax approach to SEPA compliance.

“The lack of SEPA readiness will require refreshing approaches from banks, corporates and service providers, as the clock is ticking,” said Jerry Norton, head of FS strategy at the survey sponsors CGI. “Working with our clients we have seen significant business benefits that can be achieved through complying with the legislation but time is running out for those who have yet to focus on SEPA.”

“Looking back at the results [from last year’s FS Club survey], we saw the beginning of conversations around the need for real-time payments in the UK, Sweden and Poland,” added Norton, when discussing the high priority being given to mobile and real-time payments by participants. “Over the last 12 months, this trend has gained significant momentum across Europe and mobile commerce is now reinforcing the need for real-time payments.”

According to Chris Skinner, chief executive of the FS Club, the 2013 ‘State of the European Payments Marketplace Survey’ shows that “it’s clear corporates need to play some serious [SEPA] catch-up”, before adding that “maybe a perceived lack of regulatory enforcement around SEPA”, could be contributing towards the slow uptake figures. The eurozone crisis has no doubt also been a considerable distraction.