Ed Barrie, director of foreign exchange and treasury operations at Itron, a company that sells metering systems and solutions to utilities around the world, just finished bringing Itron subsidiaries in six European countries into compliance with the Single Euro Payments Area. Based on his experience, Barrie said talk about the difficulties involved in implementing SEPA has been somewhat exaggerated.
“The industry has made SEPA compliance and the technical side of it sound more complicated than it really is,” said Barrie, pictured at right. “The technology solution is not that big an effort if the system you’re using supports it. But there are a lot of things that go into SEPA, like getting your reference data—your vendors’ BIC and IBAN numbers—and working with the banks, testing and end-to-end validation.”
In the European countries in which Itron has switched to SEPA, the company’s treasury has achieved “a level of visibility and transparency we’ve never had before,” Barrie said. “We have real-time visibility into when payments are made, the number of payment, the amount of payments, which accounts are being debited and the value dates. We are anxious to finish migrating our remaining subsidiaries in Europe to Oracle so that they will be SEPA compliant and receive the many benefits of our automated end-to-end process.”
When it comes to reconciliation, “if we’re getting all the data correctly from the bank and we’re mapping correctly into IT2 and Oracle, then those payments get automatically matched off, otherwise the transaction has to be manually matched in Oracle,” he said.