From the May Special Report issue of Treasury & Risk magazine

Countdown to SEPA

Lagging SEPA implementation leaves companies at risk of payment disruptions.

As the February 2014 deadline for switching to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) format approaches, there are growing doubts that companies will be ready in time, raising the prospect of a disruption in euro-denominated payments.

The European Community was the latest to chime in, warning in March that while most companies have done their planning for SEPA, many were looking at very late deadlines for making the changes required.

PwC’s survey of 293 finance executives in December and January showed that 22% of companies had not yet planned their SEPA implementation. Even those who put together plans had holes in those plans: for example, fewer than 20% had included the company’s HR, legal and sales departments in their planning. And 44% of those with plans had deadlines that PwC describes as “uncomfortably close” to the February 2014 deadline.

BofA's White, pictured at left, said she sees different levels of preparedness among companies. “Some clients are more ready than others and that generally seems to depend on how they’re structured, the size of the teams they have outside of the U.S. to focus on this.” Staffing is another factor, White said, and noted that that involves not only the employees in a company’s treasury department, but also those in IT and operations.

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