Local euro payments at mere 300,000 payment orders

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Local payments in euro are still low, but they are expected to rise as soon as a SEPA-compliant banking transfer structure is set in place, experts say.
“The amount of euro payments in Romania does not go beyond 300,000 payment orders a month, which is around the amount of payments in national currency made in just one day,” Ionel Dumitru, department head with the banking system’s TransFond payment service, told the Romanian Banking Forum.
 
Dumitru said that a system for euro payments is not yet in place in Romania, but that in the perspective of the implementation of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), a structure capable of managing payments in euro will be developed.
“When Romania switches to the euro we will just replace the currency in this structure. We already have the experience from 2005, with the denomination process,” said Dumitru.
 
There are still wide differences on the single European market among the various payment systems. The European Union pursues the removal of these obstacles and cutting costs with cross-border payments for consumers by establishing the Single Euro Payments Area, that will take down costs with payments, trimming also commissions and the time between payment and cashing.
As of November 2009, under the new European regulations, alternative service providers such as mobile telephony operators are allowed to develop new payment services with banking and credit card companies, ensuring a more efficient transition to a free of cash economy.
 
The European Payments Council (EPC) was established, having the task of developing a common infrastructure and standards. The Payment Services Directive is aimed at shaping a real European payments market, improving national business and offering consumers more services for lesser cost.
The Directive is a prerequisite for the setting up of SEPA, an initiative where by the  European banking sector seeks to establish consistent procedures all over the EU for credit transfers, direct debits and payment cards. The three goals should be duly implemented by end-2010.
 
The SEPA-compliant credit transfer part kicked off on January 28, 2008, with 4,377 EU banks participating, but there was no activity boom, said Dumitru.
The expert added that in September 2008, the amount of payments by SEPA standards was just 1.5% of the total payments made in euro Europe-wide as to 0.5% at the time the service was launched.
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