Volante's SEPA Accelerator

Volante says its SEPA Accelerator can help corporates prepare for the 1 February deadline

Data specialists Volante has launched its SEPA Accelerator, a tool designed to help companies comply with the upcoming Single Euro Payments Area, which takes effect on 1 February 2014.

The SEPA Accelerator is designed to give its users support for SEPA message standards. It is also meant to help financial institutions and corporates with the mandatory adoption of SEPA for credit transfers and direct debits. The idea is that the Accelerator eliminates the idea for hand-coding, a manual process that takes a lot of time and effort. Volante claims its tool can cut the time needed for projects by around half, as well as the costs.

The product includes support for multiple standards that might be needed for data integration, including ISO 20022, CGI, IDOC, Swift FIN MT 1xx, 2xx, 9xx series, EDIFACT and it also supports various preferred connectivity routes via SwiftNet, SAP FSN or EBICS. Support for XML,CSV, FixedWidth and COBOL copybook is also provided for firms that will internally represent transfers and direct debits in their own proprietary data structures. Message creation for notification and data management functions such as validation, data cleansing and updates to databases can also be automatically generated.

“We can dramatically speed up compliancy rates for all corporates and banks; from those using SAGE and Microsoft QuickBooks to those using SAP and Oracle which enables all such organisation types to avoid the excessive costs of bank transformation charges,” said Fiona Hamilton, vice president, EMEA, Volante Technologies. “We understand that the ongoing cost and maintenance efforts required to support evolving standards can have a major impact. To address this, we constantly develop the list of standards that we support, and provide automatic upgrade utilities to ensure the lowest possible total cost of ownership.”

SEPA is intended to make cross-border payments for EU countries more efficient, by enabling customers to use a single bank account to make electronic euro-denominated payments to anyone anywhere within the 28 EU member countries plus four EFTA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and Monaco.

However, the project has been dogged by delays, as well as reluctance on the part of corporates to prepare. The European Payments Council launched the SEPA credit transfer scheme in January 2008 and SEPA direct debits in November 2009. By late September 2013,  the uptake of these instruments had been disappointing – around 42% of credit transfers in euros are transacted via SCTs and a mere 2.5% of direct debits are made using SDDs.

“The percentage for SEPA-compliancy across credit transfers and direct debits is staggeringly low, particularly for direct debits,” said Hamilton. “Lengthy deadlines and SEPA deadline uncertainty can be held partly to blame for the lack of take-up. Nevertheless, 1 February 2014 is a fast looming deadline and ‘wait and see’ is no longer a viable option, she said. For corporates and banks that continue to do nothing, transformations services may be provided by their bank for a short period, but only at a cost and which will only ever be a short-term solution.”