Delays, confusion and national disparities could put SEPA progress into reverse

15 September 2008

A study of 22 banks across the EU and EEA has revealed that delays, confusion and national disparities in the implementation of the Payments Services Directive (PSD) could have severe and detrimental effects on the progress of SEPA.

The study, conducted by Logica, the leading IT and business services company, and supported by the IBOS Association, questioned European banks on the implications of PSD transposition for European banks’ business and compliance planning programmes in payments and cash management.

The survey has revealed that the timing and effect of national transposition is not clear across the EU and that national variations of PSD may even put SEPA into reverse. In the majority of communities such as Spain, the regulators have still to create and identify their transposition schedule and law making activities.

More than two thirds (67 per cent) of respondents answered that they know only approximately the time/date when PSD goes into the local statute books. In the majority of cases the date was given in the responses as 1 November 2009, i.e. the actual date when PSD comes into force internationally.

Banks from the UK, Germany and Hungary stated that the PSD will become a law in their jurisdictions by the end of Q4 2008. Banks in Slovenia and Sweden will have PSD in the local law at the end of Q2 2009.

The research revealed that whilst the banks are clear who owns the banks’ representations to national governments in each country - either the National Banking Association or the central bank - it is not clear how consistency of the final version of the laws enacting PSD can be achieved across countries.

Commenting on this, Simon Bailey, Director of Payments, Logica, said: “This issue is especially crucial when the implementation process has a national perspective, as in the case of SEPA migration. Variations in PSD taken together with possible community-defined variations in the SEPA schemes would entrench national differences – the opposite of what SEPA aims to achieve.”

The study also revealed that the pressure of PSD compliance has already been applied to the programme portfolios in banks. All respondents reported the PSD impact on their ‘SEPA project/programme’.

Simon Bailey continued: “Looking at the correlation of the impact on the ‘SEPA programme/project’ and the PSD ‘implementation’ timeline, we can conclude that the implementation for SEPA may take national flavours ‘strengthened’ by the derogations in local versions of PSD. If this happens it will further compartmentalise national payment systems and work against the concept of ‘one SEPA’.”

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