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032514_van der PoelFor several years, Treasury & Risk has covered the impending Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). We’ve explained the technical details of how systems need to change to accommodate SEPA credit transfers and SEPA direct debits. We’ve discussed ways in which some companies are leveraging their compliance efforts to improve payment processes across Europe and beyond. We covered fears last fall that businesses would be unprepared to comply by the February 1, 2014 deadline. And then, of course, we covered the extension of the deadline to August of this year.

Now that we’re six weeks past the original SEPA compliance deadline, we thought it would be a good time to take the pulse on how large corporates are faring. To what degree are European credit transfers and direct debits SEPA-compliant today? And to what degree have organizations taken the extra step of improving accounts receivable (A/R) or accounts payable (A/P) processes as they’ve revamped their technology infrastructure to meet SEPA requirements? To find out, we sat down with Ad van der Poel, the Bank of America Merrill Lynch product executive for payments and receivables global transaction services for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).

T&R:  First of all, what is the status of SEPA readiness at companies across Europe right now?

Ad van der Poel:  If you look at the market numbers from February, at that point 94 percent of credit transfers in the Eurozone were SEPA-compliant, as were 80 percent of direct debits. And my guess is both of those numbers will rise substantially over the coming months. At Bank of America Merrill Lynch, we are almost at full migration for our clients. We don’t serve the SME [small to midsize enterprise] market in Europe—only large corporates—and almost all of our clients are now SEPA-ready.

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