Robert McKay, managing director of business development at payments services company Accuity, is positive about the effects of the Single Euro Payments Area outside the banking sector, and says it may cause institutions to shed peripheral areas of their business.
Sepa is clearly of benefit to consumers and corporate customers; they will benefit from improved cost-structures along with an unprecedented ability to transfer bank relationships without risk of degradation in their payment flows,"he says.
Sepa unifies the fragmented intra-European market, creating an area within which all electronic payments are treated as domestic.
McKay concedes that there has been a mix of reactions to Sepa, but says that negative views are a reflection of concerns about the difficulty of making the switch in some countries, rather than a fear of unfortunate consequences.
There is no debate that it is a good thing to make things simpler and more straightforward the problem is that there are different legacy schemes, some of which are more difficult to bring into Sepa-compliance than others, says McKay.
McKay observes that in the wake of the financial crisis banks have sought to shed their peripheral business and return to their core function: "The crisis has meant that there is no room for inefficient business; banks are going back to the building blocks of their business and payment operations is clearly a focus. Banks are exiting non-core businesses, like offering derivatives and other securitized products and shifting perhaps to offering deeper payment service to their customers - one example of this can be seen in intelligent payment routing."
McKay believes that the introduction of Sepa will serve as a catalyst for a further refocusing of banks business models: Sepa levels the playing field, you have to make sure you do your business efficiently or the costs will simply drown you.