SEPA migration not yet complete in February

New figures for February show that the majority of businesses have completed the migration to SEPA. "Nevertheless, more bank customers than expected are making use of the additional transition period until 1 August 2014," said Carl-Ludwig Thiele, Member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank, regarding the status of the migration to SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) in Germany. In January 2014, the European Union decided at short notice to introduce an additional transition period until 1 August 2014, during which credit institutions would be allowed to continue to accept payments in the old format as an exception.

In February 2014, SEPA credit transfers accounted for 77.85% (January 2014: 58.51%) of all credit transfers submitted in Germany on a monthly average. SEPA direct debits as a percentage of all direct debits submitted in Germany stood at 53.40% on a monthly average (January 2014: 29.37%).

"The not yet fully completed migration of credit transfers can be attributed to the fact that many credit institutions had intended to offer conversion services to their smaller business customers," said Thiele. Starting on 1 February 2014, the statutory deadline initially set for the SEPA migration, service providers were to convert these businesses' payment instructions from the old formats into SEPA formats. Owing to the new transition period, these conversion services will not be used for the time being.

Most larger businesses, which regularly collect direct debits, have now fully migrated to SEPA. The slower progress made with direct debits is due in many cases to one-off direct debits that are still being processed in the old national format, say in online trading. In addition, there is the special situation in Germany, which allows retail businesses to settle direct debits in the electronic direct debit scheme in the national format until 1 February 2016.