The prolonged process of implementing the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) ended this summer. Now that the standardization of euro-denominated electronic payments has occurred, companies that do business in multiple European countries have an opportunity to realize efficiencies in their cash management and payments operations.

Eurozone countries have shared a common currency since 1995, but prior to SEPA, each country still used different electronic payment formats. In the 28 European Union nations and six other European countries—Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, and Switzerland—SEPA replaced those local instruments with standard payments, SEPA Credit Transfers and SEPA Direct Debits, that are formatted in an XML standard, ISO 20022.

"There are now no more differences in executing payments in the different countries," said Arn Knol, a senior consultant at Zanders. "You don't have to do anything to your banking infrastructure, and you can reap the benefits."

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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.