Is your business ‘SEPA-ready’?

As of 1 February 2014, Europe is going to implement the joint exchange of financial information: Single Euro Payments Area, abbreviated to SEPA. This initiative from the European Union aims to standardize all euro payments within Europe. This means that there will be no difference then between national payments and a euro payment to or from another European country.

The implementation of SEPA could have few or major consequences for businesses. We will outline the most important changes for you.

Bank account number

Most people will be aware that the familiar bank account number will be altered to a combination of IBAN (details account number) and BIC (details bank). Every form of communication in which you relate your bank account needs to be furnished with the new IBAN number. Consider, for example, invoices, websites, stationery, and email. Your software will also need to be modified in the light of this alteration.

Payments

Your collective payments, including salary payments and direct debit payments have to be delivered in a different file format. The Clieop03 file format is being replaced by the PAIN.001 and PAIN.008 file format. PAIN.001 is suitable for payments (SEPA Credit Transfer) and PAIN.008 is suitable for payment by direct debit. (SEPA Direct Debit). In addition, there will be two varieties of direct debit: CORE and B2B. The first variety is accessible to both the consumer and the business market. The second variety is only available to the business market.

Direct debit

If you collect your claims from clients by using direct debit, the changes are more significant. The current terms for one-off and continuous direct debit mandates will change, as will the way in which you record your administration of this. An important difference between the current Dutch mandates and the new European mandates is that the party whose account is being debited will no longer be able to reverse that transaction.

Depending on your type of business, you will have to carry out some smaller or larger adjustments to ensure that you meet the SEPA standards. Regardless, if you do not implement the necessary alterations in time, the consequences for your business could be significant. Consider, for instance, disgruntled staff as a result of arrears in salary or not being able to collect on invoices due to incomplete banking information. A conversation with your bank would be a sensible first step to set the process in motion.

The implementation of SEPA applies to the entire European Union, including Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and Monaco.