Ready or not, the Single Euro Payments Area is coming. And if you think there was a lack of specificity about Sarbanes-Oxley, wait until you deal with SEPA. "The politicians are running it," notes Cleveland-based treasury consultant Mark Webster. "There are lots of directives, but few specific regulations ready to go. The banks are behaving badly. The French are dragging their feet. The British banks have their own ideas. The goal is wonderful, but there will be chaos in the short run."

On the other hand, the possibilities for straight through processing (STP) and banking consolidation are immense. "SEPA is bringing an opportunity for all corporations to rationalize their account structure in Europe, abandon the existing model of keeping an account in every country, use local clearing systems and move to a truly harmonized pan-European payments infrastructure," explains Harold Young, head of payments in the global transaction banking–cash management unit of Deutsche Bank. "One set of accounts could service all their euro-denominated transaction needs."

Whether the SEPA glass looks half full or half empty, treasuries have a lot to swallow. Those who are prepared may see exciting benefits, but those unprepared will definitely feel pain, emphasizes G.M. Stetter, group senior vice president in the global treasury advisory unit of ABN Amro Bank. "Payment processing will change, and if you don't fall in line, you'll get failed payments, late payments and fines for payment repairs."

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to Treasury & Risk, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical Treasury & Risk information including in-depth analysis of treasury and finance best practices, case studies with corporate innovators, informative newsletters, educational webcasts and videos, and resources from industry leaders.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and Treasury & Risk events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.