Frequently asked questions on SEPA
Which countries?

SEPA applies to which countries?
SEPA encompasses all 28 EU member states, plus the EES members Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, as well as Monaco and Switzerland.

The effects on the company

What will SEPA mean for my company?
SEPA will mean that there will be a basis for more rational processing of euro payments in Europe.This basis consists of a uniform set of rules and a technical infrastructure. The harmonisation work mainly affects the banking sector, but it will benefit end-customers in the form of simpler, cheaper payment services.
How can my company prepare for SEPA?
For a payment to qualify as a SEPA payment, there are certain requirements in terms of content. You will need to familiarise yourself with these requirements and ensure that your company’s systems can fulfil them. This provided that both the sending and receiving banks are adapted to SEPA. If a transaction cannot be classified as a SEPA payment, it will not be processed according to the SEPA terms. Therefore it may be worth building control functions into your company’s systems to verify that IBAN numbers etc. are correct.
How can my company benefit from SEPA?
In addition to the direct advantages, such as lower transaction costs and standardised content, SEPA can offer other opportunities. Your company should review how liquidity management and payments administration is organised, to evaluate the potential for rationalising your company’s euro payments. Your company should also review its accounts structure and its banking relationships, to assess whether anything can be simplified.
Will my company continue to report on SEPA payments to the local authority (where applicable)?
Requirements vary from country to country. Unfortunately, the introduction of SEPA will not end the reporting requirements to central banks etc.
Will my company be forced to use new formats, or will the Bank do the conversion?
According to the EPC, the recommended format for SEPA payments is XML, in accordance with ISO 20022. This is also the format in which SEPA-adapted payments are sent between banks. As it will be some time before all accounting and payment systems support the ISO 20022 standard, Handelsbanken will offer conversion from customers’ current formats, provided that the payments contain all the necessary information.

Managing euro payments

Will one euro account be enough for all of Europe?
Euro payments will be processed on the same terms and using the same rules across the entire SEPA area. This will allow the use of a single account for euro payments within the whole area. However, the necessity of retaining local accounts may vary between countries and depend on the nature of the business. Initially, there may be legal, tax-related or business-related reasons for local accounts. Customer structure and payment behaviour may also affect the decision.
Will my company still need cross-border EUR pooling after SEPA has come into effect?
The need for pooling will probably remain, but as SEPA will give companies new opportunities to centralise their payment flows, the need will certainly diminish in time.
What about EU countries that do not use the euro?
The SEPA rules apply only to euro payments, this means that that there is no requirement for harmonisation of payments in other currencies with SEPA payment instruments. The EU rules and conditions that have been adopted through the PSD apply to payments in euro as well as local payments in all member state currencies. The infrastructure that banks are building up to provide SEPA-adapted payments can only process payments in euro.

The banks and SEPA

Will a SEPA payments cost the same amount everywhere in Europe?
Not by law - but market forces will probably ensure more uniform (and lower) pricing.

Although a local payment in euro must have the same pricing as a cross-border euro payment within a euro country.
What will be the important factors when choosing a bank within SEPA?
Payments are becoming more standardised. There will be more focus on a bank’s range of supplementary services for euro payments. A bank’s ability to process all types of payments, not only SEPA-adapted euro payments, in a uniform manner may be vital. The technical requirements for keeping up with customers’ process development (e.g. invoice management and payment matching) are also becoming more important. A bank’s ‘service level’ - which often means its skilled and dedicated staff - can be a determining and decisive factor.

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