The European Commission announced that the transition period of the Single European Payments Area – also known by its acronym SEPA – has been extended until 1 July 2014. This forms another delay in the implementation of a scheme that is subject to discussion for more than a decade.
Internal Market Commissioner, Michel Barnier, stated: “As of today, migration rates for credit transfers and direct debits are not high enough to ensure a smooth transition to SEPA despite the important work already carried out by all involved.”
The decision contradicts recent statements by the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the European Payments Council (the organ that coordinates and decides on the European banking industry with relation to payments) who signaled that there is “no plan B” when it comes to SEPA.
Ecommerce Europe regrets the decision of extension but believes an accurate and complete implementation is better than none. Moreover, Ecommerce Europe believes that the measures taken under SEPA have not gone far enough. The extension of the transition period however, creates uncertainty for online retailers. Therefore, Ecommerce Europe urges the European Commission and all stakeholders involved to stick to the extended transition period to foster pan-European and online payments infrastructures.