Home Means of payment SEPA Another step forward for the pan-European payments  

Another step forward for the pan-European payments  

25 may 2011

French banks made available the SEPA direct debit in November 2010. The European Commission is proposing deadlines for the end of migration to SEPA.


The SEPA direct debit : a new European payment service

Since 1 November 2010, French and European banks have offered a new payment instrument: the SEPA direct debit. This service can be used to debit an account in order to pay invoices issued by French suppliers or creditors located in other SEPA countries. Up to now, there had been no such service for carrying out direct debits in euros between different countries.

The SEPA direct debit offers new features compared with the already existing French direct debit :

  • the consumer has only one form to fill in and sign, and deliver to the creditor, instead of two separate authorisations for the national direct debit (one for the supplier and the other for the bank);
  • the information accompanying the payment is more detailed.

The implementation of the SEPA direct debit is a gradual and transparent process for consumers.

SEPA transfers continue to grow

The National SEPA Committee, chaired by the Bank of France and the FBF , regularly monitors the use of SEPA transfers, which have been offered by French banks since January 2008. The number of SEPA transfers rose sharply in 2010 due primarily to the take-up by government offices and social security bodies which issue approximately 45% of national transfers.

Risk of stemming the migration to SEPA

In accordance with the banking community's request, the European Commission's proposed regulation of 16 December 2010 provides for national transfer and direct debit systems to be replaced by the new SEPA instruments, 12 and 24 months respectively after entry into force of the regulation.

However, this proposed regulation infers technical changes, whereas SEPA payment instruments have already been introduced. Moreover, it prohibits any remuneration of interbank services that the banks are obliged to provide each other for direct debits without any realistic economic model being proposed. For the banking profession, these measures are likely to disrupt the migration to SEPA and penalise those that have already carried out the necessary work.

SEPA council for the governance of European payments

The SEPA Council, co-chaired by the ECB and the European Commission was set up in 2010. It brings together high-level representatives from the payment market. It is designed to clarify the management of the SEPA project.

Top of the page