Euro payments made simpler and cheaper
The first step towards a Single Euro Payments Area was the introduction of the international account number. IBAN and BIC have been obligatory for all cross-border euro payments within SEPA countries since January 1, 2006. Common procedures with standardized processing rules and regulations for credit transfers, direct debits and card payments were implemented and UNIFI ISO 20022 XML is today the binding interbank data format for SEPA. The transmission of full, structured details on payment purpose and expanded reference fields enables processes to be automated and optimized all along the payment chain - from issuing the instruction to processing and reporting. You as a customer and all involved parties can already benefit from this.
Until February 1, 2014 (additional transition period until maximum of 6 month may apply depending on the country), SEPA instruments have ran parallel to the other existing euro payment services products. However, from this date standard payment transactions in eurozone SEPA countries have to be processed via SEPA and Payment Service Providers in these countries cannot accept any longer instructions that do not comply with SEPA rules. Non-eurozone EEA countries have an additional extension (to October 2016). Although Switzerland is not affected by these deadlines, it is important that companies and software suppliers prepare their systems for SEPA.
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