General information on SEPA
1. What countries does SEPA cover?
SEPA covers 33 countries in Europe.
- Eurozone countries in EU
Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain
- Non-Eurozone countries in EU
Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Sweden, UK
- EEA members
Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway
- Additional SEPA countries
2. What are the key aspects of the SEPA End Date Regulation that will affect me?
Under the SEPA End Date Regulation local domestic file formats will be demised and all Credit Transfers and Direct Debits instructions will need to be in XML file format. This may require you to change the file format you currently submit, which might involve the engagement of your IT vendor. Whilst there are some countries that may have adopted a derogation to allow the processing of some local country formats beyond this date, we recommend that you begin to plan now in accordance with the 1st February 2014 date. Our team would be pleased to assist in planning and discuss these derogations with you further.
In addition to XML file formats, SEPA requires both Business Identifier Code (BIC) and International Bank Account Number (IBAN) details at the outset. The BIC is necessary only until 1 February 2014 (exclusions apply), and you may need to request these from your payment beneficiaries/Direct Debit debtors in preparation for this change.
For Direct Debits in particular, SEPA also introduces new obligations for the Creditor, e.g. obtaining a Unique Mandate Reference number and Creditor ID as well as the responsibility for managing mandates.
3. What is the XML format?
XML (eXtensible Mark-up Language) is a standardised syntax for messages that emphasises simplicity, generality, and usability. It allows corporates’ back office systems to communicate efficiently with bank systems. From 1 February 2014 (exclusions apply), it will be a legal requirement for this format to be used for the exchange of all SEPA transactions between corporates and banks in the Eurozone.
4. What do I need to do to prepare for this change?
- Plan your migration as part of your 2013 deliverables
Set up a dedicated SEPA project team and engage key stakeholders as early as possible to assess the scope and impact of the transition.
- Engage suppliers and customers now
Obtain BIC/IBAN details from payees and ensure that your BIC/IBAN details are added to your invoices for customers to use.
- Engage your IT vendor to ensure that your ERP (back office) system is SEPA compliant
E.g. Can your ERP system store BIC/IBAN details and produce XML format?
5. I input payments directly to a country specific screen on HSBCnet, what will change?
The country specific screens will be replaced with a SEPA compliant screen in due course. A Eurozone screen can be made available to allow for SEPA compliant payments. Our migration team will be in touch with you to explain this and coordinate the change with you.
6. How will HSBC help me?
To assist with a smooth transition, HSBC is offering you a dedicated team to understand your migration needs in detail and advise you on the steps to take to ensure you are SEPA compliant by the designated date. Our client migration team is in the process of initiating contact with all customers directly affected by SEPA requirements by the end of June 2013. Depending on your business needs, you will either receive a package by mail detailing next steps or will be contacted by phone to discuss the migration process. Our pan European presence, global XML expertise and state-of-the-art technical capabilities give you access to a comprehensive, coordinated delivery of SEPA.