This week, a lot of news dealt with the effect and impact of the upcoming standardisation of European payments. That had to do with a conference on SEPA in Amsterdam. In the aftermath a couple of interviews shed more light on topics such as:
- the approval of the EPC-rulebooks; banks can now start develop their systems so that cross-border payments and direct debits in euro may be standardised as of 1-1-2008,
- the possible effect on jobs, with a Unisys official stating that in Europe a total of 100.000 jobswould be lost as a result of SEPA,
- the effects on the clearing houses in Europa, now about 25, but most likely some seven or nine remain,
- the disappearance, in the long run, of the local debit- (PIN) and e-purse schemes (Chipknip); with those being replaced with about on of the five remaining panEuropean products (2 of which undoubtedly Visa / Mastercard).
Whether or not all this will be enough in the eyes of the Commission and the European Central Banks remains to be seen. I am quite confident however that in 20 tears time, we will look back at this period in time, wondering how the regulators could be so stupid to force this European standardisation and the speed of consolidation for the sake of increased competition. While the end game will be more efficient and beneficial to all, we musn't speed ourselves too much.