Ed Barrie of ItronEd 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."

Itron's SEPA effort was part of a bigger project to shift to a single company-wide instance of Oracle's R12 ERP system, while also moving to an IT2 treasury workstation and implementing SWIFT connectivity to its banks. If the company's SEPA implementation hadn't been tied to the ERP project, "we probably could have gotten the XML payments with SEPA compliance done in three to five months, realistically, since Oracle R12 natively supports the format after installing a specific update patch," Barrie said.

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Susan Kelly

Susan Kelly is a business journalist who has written for Treasury & Risk, FierceCFO, Global Finance, Financial Week, Bridge News and The Bond Buyer.