From the April 2011 issue of Treasury & Risk magazine

Too Much Wiggle Room?

If there has been one defining reaction to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), it's been "ho hum." SEPA aims to eliminate differences between national payment systems in Europe, thus cutting the cost of cross-border payments. Its adoption finally looms larger on the horizon after the European Commission proposed long-awaited deadlines in December for switching to SEPA credit transfers and direct debits. But it's still difficult to find corporate treasurers who are excited about the change.

They will have time to mull it over. The expectation is that once the regulation passes, which is likely to happen by the end of this year, it will require all credit transfers to occur using SEPA by the end of 2012, and direct debits by the end of 2013. But that's if the regulation is passed by all the countries in the European Union in a timely manner.

So far, he says, Dow Chemical has taken no steps to convert its existing robust payments infrastructure across Europe, which involves an intracompany plan to transfer funds to subsidiaries when necessary and use their existing banking relationships to make payments, so that each payment occurs domestically, and at the cost of a domestic payment.

"We're not changing anything until we see real dates," Unterste says.

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