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Banking

EU Commission delays Single Euro Payments Area by 6 months

The EU Commission has extended a deadline for the introduction of a faster and cheaper intra-bank payments system called SEPA. The delay by six months is caused by slow adoption in member countries.

The European Union's new Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) was not going to be fully implemented before August 1, the EU Commission announced Thursday.

Intra-bank payments would be allowed to be carried out using the old, shorter national bank account data format for six more months beyond the initial February 1 cut-off date, the EU's executive body said.

“I regret having to do this but it is a measure of prudence to counter the possible risk of disruption to payments,” EU Internal markets Commissioner Michael Barnier said in a statement.

Barnier also lamented slow adoption of SEPA by EU member states and called on governments to intensify efforts to migrate to the new system.

The Single Euro Payments Area will cover the 28 EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway and Switzerland. It is meant to enable cheaper, faster and more secure transfers between bank accounts.

However, SEPA Credit Transfers were only about 64 percent compliant by the end of November 2013, and SEPA Direct Debits only 26 percent, according to latest EU Commission data.

The Commission's decision still needs to be accepted by the European Parliament and EU governments. But Commission spokeswoman Chantal Hughes said that the approval was expected to be reached easily.

The European Central Bank (ECB) insisted that the switch should be completed as quickly as possible, noting that the majority of stakeholders in the 18-nation eurozone would complete the transition on time.

uhe/lw (AFP, AP)

DW.DE