The European Commission adopted a proposal last week intended to ensure the acceptance of non-SEPA payments in the eurozone for an additional six months.
The Single Euro Payments Area allows consumers and businesses to make and receive euro payments under the same conditions, rights and obligations, regardless of location.
Financial institutions and businesses within the SEPA were instructed by rules established by the commission to reject payments after Feb. 1 that do not meet the specifications for SEPA Credit Transfers and SEPA Direct Debits.
Though migration rates have increased over the past several months, as of November, only 64.1 percent of credit transfers and 26 percent of direct debits were SEPA-compliant, prompting the commission to extend the transition period by an additional six months.
“I regret having to do this, but it is necessary to counter the substantial risk of disruption to payments and detrimental consequences for individual consumers and SMEs in particular,” Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier said. “I have warned many times that migration was happening too slowly and call once more on Member States to fully assume their responsibilities and accelerate and intensify efforts to migrate to SEPA so that all can enjoy its benefits, that is, faster and cheaper payments across Europe.”