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Spain: The extension of the deadline to implement the SEPA

Macarena Correa

04 March 2014
The Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro (Regulation 260/2012), regulated the establishment of a Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) integrated by the 28 EU Member States, the four Members of the EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), Monaco and San Marino.

Spain The extension of the deadline to implement the SEPASEPA is a project to harmonize how to make and process retail payments in Euro enabling credit transfers and direct debits with no distinction between national and cross-border transactions. In this sense, customers are provided with a single international bank account number (IBAN) that can be used for all SEPA credit transfers and direct debits, which allows making payments in euro across Europe as fast, safe and efficient as national payments.

Thus, the bank accounts are no longer identified by the customer account code (ccc) but by the IBAN. The IBAN is composed by the 20 digits of the bank account preceded by the country code (ES, in the case of Spain) and a check digit. In the Spanish case, the IBAN has the following structure:

Spain The extension of the deadline to implement the SEPA

In accordance with the original provisions of the Regulation (EU) No 260/2012, 1 February 2014 was supposed to be the deadline for the 34 countries that have decided to enter into the SEPA in order to complete their respective migration process. Until that date, both the European Commission and the European Central bank have closely monitored progress with the migration.

In January 2014, the majority of the Eurozone member states were well on track, with migration rates for credit transfers close to 100% but, actually, there are several Member States whose migration rates are not yet at the required level, in particular for direct debits. To this respect, the current situation In Spain is the following: (i) the financial entities and major issuers have completed the migration process successfully; (ii) the Public Administrations have partially completed the migration as they have completed successfully the migration related to the transferences, but have not completed such migration in relation to direct debits, and (iii) the rates of migration of SMEs are comparatively low.

On 18 February 2014 the European Commission has amended the Regulation 260/2012 extending the deadline until 1 August 2014. This amendment will apply with retroactive effect from 31 January 2014.

Notwithstanding the above, please note that the deadline of 1 February 2014 remains valid, since the referred amendment leaves discretion to the financial entities to continue accept or not the traditional formats.

Accordingly, once reached 1 August 2014 all SEPA member States shall have completed their migration concerning domestic and intra-European credit transfers and direct debits in euros to the new SEPA-standard-based credit transfers and direct debits.

 

Macarena Correa

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