The Asian Banker

EBA Clearing provides central processing platform for SEPA payments
May 21, 2013

Berlin/ Paris, May 21st 2013 - EBA CLEARING’s STEP2 platform will gradually take over the processing of a major part of the German mass payment volumes from the second half of 2013 onwards. This was announced today by representatives of major German financial institutions from the private banking, savings banking and cooperative banking sectors at the payments conference EBAday in Berlin.

STEP2 will support at least seven important players in the German payments market in exchanging national credit transfers and direct debits in the SEPA formats. In the course of this changeover from legacy to SEPA formats, EBA CLEARING’s Pan-European Automated Clearing House (PE-ACH) will progressively replace the direct bilateral exchange of national mass payments currently taking place between the individual financial institutions (“Garagenclearing”). In analogy to their current bilateral exchange approach, the institutions will pre-sort their files by receiving bank, which facilitates faster and more efficient processing. The participating institutions are already using STEP2 for the settlement of their present SEPA volumes.

“As a pan-European system, STEP2 enables banks to channel all their euro retail transactions within Europe through one clearing system,” says Christian Rhino, Divisional Board Member, Banking Operations, Commerzbank AG. “Concentrating our mass payments on one central platform allows us to minimise our administrative and monitoring efforts and to improve our liquidity management in this area.”

“With STEP2, EBA CLEARING offers a highly efficient solution that fulfils all the requirements for processing mass payments in the Single Euro Payments Area,” says Wolf-Rüdiger Braun, Head of Division Operation Services, Landesbank Baden-Württemberg. “We are looking forward to connecting the German savings banking sector, in co-operation with the other Landesbanken, to this cost-effective and future-oriented infrastructure,” says Markus Jörg, Head of Cash Management, Helaba.

“STEP2 was designed as a scalable and flexible system to optimally support the migration of cross-border and domestic volumes to the SEPA formats,” says Gilbert Lichter, Chief Executive Officer, EBA CLEARING. “We welcome the decision of our German STEP2 Participants to also use the platform for their domestic payments. The necessary preparations for a smooth changeover of the processes of all the parties involved have already started and are expected to lead to a successful migration over the coming months.”

In view of the SEPA migration end-date (1st February 2014), EBA CLEARING is currently implementing the final STEP2 functionality enhancements. The processing speed and capacity of STEP2 have already been significantly increased over the last few months. Moreover, a third processing site will start operating in a test mode in November 2013, which will further contribute to adapting the technical and operational robustness of STEP2 to the settlement of higher volumes and future regulatory requirements. These preparations are putting EBA CLEARING in a position to provide the European financial industry with a clearing infrastructure for SEPA transactions that meets the high resilience requirements for systemically important payment systems in time for the migration end-date.

Furthermore, STEP2 users will shortly be able to rely on a German-speaking customer support service, which will be integrated into the existing EBA CLEARING office in Frankfurt.

As a pan-European platform for mass payments in euro, STEP2 is a central component of the SEPA payment infrastructure. The system has been live since 2003 and ensures the full reachability of all payment service providers that offer SEPA Credit Transfers and Direct Debits. Participating institutions can technically connect to the platform via SWIFTNet, SIANet and, from October 2013 on, also EBICS. STEP2 settles in TARGET2, the real-time gross settlement system of the Eurosystem.

Currently, about one third of all SEPA Credit Transfers and almost 75 percent of all SEPA Direct Debits that are processed by mass payment systems in the eurozone according to the European Central Bank are exchanged via STEP2. Apart from cross-border payments, the platform also processes the domestic payment traffic of the banking communities in Finland, Luxembourg and Ireland as well as of many major banks in other countries, e.g. Italy. More than 4,700 financial institutions in 32 countries can be reached via STEP2.


Re-disseminated by The Asian Banker

Categories: Technology & Operations, Transaction Banking
Keywords: EBA Clearing, SEPA, STEP2

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