Sepa – uniform payment transactions in Europe

Sepa - uniform payment transactions in Europe

It is theoretically quite simple: Am 1 February 2014 will be a Europe-wide uniform payment system for credit transfers and direct debits for the 28 EU Member States, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Monaco and Switzerland come into effect. SEPA is the abbreviation of “Single Euro Payments Area”, ie the single European payment area. The national cashless payment procedures will be replaced.

Goals of SEPA

The new payment system should not only standardize cashless payment transactions in Europe, but above all else Simplify transnational financial transactions and make them cheaper. This is because remittances abroad are only expected to last one bank business day (on the condition that they are transactions in euros). Which does not mean that intra-German payments are not also converted to SEPA. Here, however, private customers have a two-year transitional period for the conversion.

With SEPA, the information needed for transfers changes: There are new bank codes and new, virtually unique account numbers. BIC stands for “Bank Identifier Code”, ie the new bank code, account numbers are called IBAN, short for “International Bank Account Numbers”.

How is the IBAN created??

The important IBAN is composed of 22 characters – will be easy to remember, what? First comes the two-digit country code, so DE for Germany. Next comes one two-digit check digit. This serves to secure the IBAN, ie to protect against fraud. The check digit allows credit institutions to check whether an IBAN number is correct. This is followed by the previous bank code and the account number. If the old account number is shorter than ten digits, an appropriate number of zeros will be prefixed.

country code 2-digit check digit 8-digit BLZ 10-digit account number (possibly prefix zeros!)
DE 12 12345678 0987654321

Example of the new IBAN

The IBAN is already indicated on account statements and newer bank cards. In addition, the new data can be found in online banking.

Consequences of the SEPA changeover

Unlike business customers need Private customers first of all, nothing to change. Due to the transitional period until 01.02.2016, the banks settle all orders until then with the old account number and the old bank code and convert them (free of charge) accordingly. Also Check and credit card payments are still possible in the old format. Likewise the electronic direct debit procedure (ELV), So the payment process with cash card at the cash register incl. Signing of the direct debit authorization.

Into the foreseeable chaos?

Banks, business customers and clubs, on the other hand, can not lean back and relax – on the contrary – they have to accelerate in order to be prepared for payment on SEPA on schedule. So must for example Energy suppliers or mobile service providers to write their customers with the necessary information and in the future for direct debit and use the right IBAN. Also in the banking business threatens without appropriate preparation to the deadline in February chaos. According to Spiegel Online “the danger of technical breakdowns and of liquidity bottlenecks with possible consequences for payment traffic is growing.”

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Christina Cherry
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