The progress of SEPA

Let’s take a quick look back into the history. When the European Payments Council (EPC) in 2003 decided that SEPA would become the standard, Luxembourg was the first country that went full speed ahead. The rest of the countries followed later, with each country taking the step in its own pace. Nine years after the decision was made, it seems that some countries still have a lot of work to do to be able to make a smooth transition on the first of February in 2014.

Data journalist Jelle Kamsma created a map to display the progress of the migration to SEPA for each country. Each colour shown reflects the percentage of SEPA transactions in that specific country. The timeline starts in 2008 and ends in the first half of 2012. The figures are based on data provided by the European Central Bank.

The digital map shows that Luxembourg was the first country to take the necessary steps to switch to SEPA payments. The fact that Luxembourg is a small country played a major role in the transition. Based on an article on the website of the European Payments Council, 15 to 20 financial institutions are based in Luxembourg. The compact payments landscape ensures that shareholders can communicate easily and decisions can be taken more quickly. The small country is therefore flexible enough to be able to implement new standards quickly.

In the first half of 2012 Luxembourg, the UK, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Latvia, Cyprus and Slovenia are almost entirely switched to SEPA. In these eight countries 80 to 100 per cent of total transactions are made with SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT). The Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Austria and Slovakia still have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to SCT payments.

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