Equens Processes Billionth SEPA Transaction

Feb 28, 2013, 03:30 ET from Equens

UTRECHT, the Netherlands, February 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

- Milestone despite market lagging behind in preparations for SEPA end date

Equens processed its billionth SEPA transaction last week. Since the launch of the SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) scheme in January 2008 and the introduction of SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) in November 2009, transaction volumes have shown progressive growth. Although Equens' systems have been prepared for large SEPA payment volumes since day one, it has taken five years to reach the mark of 1 billion SEPA transactions, as many market participants have not yet prepared themselves for the SEPA migration. There is therefore still a lot to do between now and the SEPA end date of 1 February 2014.

Equens recently processed its 1 billionth SEPA transaction despite the fact that the vast majority of the European payments market still needs to actually migrate. Equens' payment systems are able to process large SEPA payment volumes, but with less than a year to go until the SEPA end date many market participants have not yet prepared themselves for the final migration. As a result, in 2012 SEPA payments accounted for only 4.3% (446 million out of 10.4 billion) of all payments processed by Equens. This statistic underlines the need for quick preparations and the increasing pressure on banks and companies.

Equens has been processing SEPA transactions since 28 January 2008, when its systems were adapted in accordance with the related international agreements made with the European Payments Council. Consequently, Equens already has five years of practical experience with the processing of both SCT and SDD transactions. Equens currently deals with around 250 specifications of the SEPA standard, and processes SEPA transactions for banks and between clearing & settlement parties from sixteen countries, with Belgium, Finland and Germany delivering the highest volumes.

Michael Steinbach, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Equens: "Our billionth SEPA transaction is the result of our early and intense preparation for the introduction of SEPA Credit Transfer and Direct Debit. Our timely investments in our high-performance payment system are now starting to pay off. Although the SEPA format brings about much higher data volumes, our system currently processes up to 10 million SEPA payments per day without problems. Despite the milestone of 1 billion processed SEPA transactions, we see that the European payments market still has a long way to go before the final SEPA migration next year."

In September 2012, Equens launched a European blog on SEPA (blog.equens.com/eu) with the intention of increasing the sense of urgency, supporting the exchange of ideas and increasing the level of knowledge amongst European consumers, banks and companies concerning SEPA. Topics include best practices, tips and tricks on preparing for SEPA, the historical background of the SEPA project and new developments.

Note for editors

About Equens

Equens SE is one of the largest payment processors in Europe, leading the market for future-proof payment and card solutions. Thanks to an extensive and competitive range of services, the company seamlessly meets the requirements and wishes of the European payments market.

Equens supports the development of a single, uniform European payments market (SEPA), and is dedicated to the standardisation and harmonisation of European and global payments. With clients and partnerships in multiple European countries, the company offers pan-European market coverage from offices in five countries - the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Finland and the United Kingdom. And with an annual processing volume of 10.4 billion payments and 4.4 billion POS and ATM transactions, Equens SE has a European market share of more than 12.5%.

About SEPA

The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is the payments integration initiative of the European Union (EU). Since the introduction of euro notes and coins in 2002, the political drivers of the SEPA initiative - EU governments, the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) - have focused on the integration of the euro payments market. Meanwhile, the political drivers have called upon the payments industry to bolster the common currency by developing a set of harmonised payment schemes and frameworks for electronic euro payments.

The scheduled end date of the migration to SEPA is drawing nearer. As of 1 February 2014, SEPA Credit Transfers (SCTs) and SEPA Direct Debits (SDDs) will become a reality. This fixed deadline will contribute to a swift migration. European banks will benefit optimally from economies of scale and the resulting cost savings after the migration has been completed.

Information on migration indicators of the euro area and individual countries can be found at http://www.sepa.eu, which is hosted by the European Central Bank (ECB). The ECB also provides country-specific fact sheets containing information on conversion services, waiver and niche products.