The Central Bank of Ireland announced the start of an information campaign counting down to the full implementation of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) initiative on 1 February 2014. SEPA will standardise credit transfer and direct debit payments in euro across the 27 EU member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway and Switzerland. The information campaign will focus on informing businesses and consumers about SEPA and the impact it will have on them.

Governor of the Central Bank, Patrick Honohan, said ‘the first steps towards a single area for the payment of goods and services across Europe began in 1992 but even after 20 years, processing cross-border payments can still be complicated. This phase of SEPA will simplify this process and make it easier for businesses and consumers to pay for goods and services across European countries. It is likely that businesses will have to introduce some changes to their electronic payment and payroll systems but SEPA will result in faster and more efficient payment processing and lead to a more competitive payments market.

It is another step towards more effective integration in Europe and one that will benefit businesses and consumers alike.’

From 1 February 2014 all euro credit transfers and direct debits must operate under the new system. A key component of the new system is that the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) will replace bank account numbers and the Bank Identifier Code (BIC) will replace bank sort codes. IBANs and BICs generally appear on paper or electronic bank statements. Businesses and consumers can find further information on what SEPA means for them, and how to find their IBAN and BIC, at or by contacting their bank.

SEPA is being introduced under Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 of the European Parliament and the Council of 14 March 2012, “Establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro”.

The member countries of SEPA are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.