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SEPA Widdershins

The European Payments Council (EPC) recently achieved its 8th birthday. Back in 2002, the road to SEPA probably looked fairly straightforward – the EPC would develop the payment schemes and frameworks necessary to realise SEPA, and market forces would ensure a smooth transition from the fragmented payments landscape of the time in Europe to the calm waters of a single payments area. The European banking industry would deliver the basis on which SEPA would be built, the rest would fall into place as a matter of course, and the end-user would be Very Happy.

The reality is however that it hasn’t really worked out like that, and the general lack of progress has produced recent ripples throughout the political and regulatory structures. And we’ve all adopted the mantra: “we need an end-date”.

So where does ‘widdershins’ come into this? The term originates in the 16th century and means essentially ‘in a contrary direction’. This is a good word to use for SEPA – we will get there but not perhaps in the way we originally expected. We just need to be flexible and agile – and we can extract the value that there really is in SEPA. Widdershins is not something to be feared.

Paul Styles

Product Marketing Manager - Wholesale Payments