Sepa will give customers greater control over banking
Sepa, the new Single Euro Payments Area regulatory initiative, will change the way we bank from February
“As consumers realise there is more choice, you could see the cost of banking coming down. It all depends on people switching.”
Just make sure you can read that Portuguese bank statement.
There are other pro-consumer elements too, Rice adds, including a provision allowing individuals to restrict the amount of a direct debit.
“You will be able to say to your bank about direct debits coming from a particular provider, ‘I don’t want that debit to go above €200’.”
Rice says this is a little-known right that consumers have but which Sepa makes clear. “You’ll still owe the money, but you’re managing your cash flow a bit more aggressively. It’s putting the power back into consumers’ hands.”
Right to revoke
Probably the biggest power for Irish consumers will be the right to revoke a transaction for up to eight weeks after a direct debit. “So if your electricity bill lands on July 1st, for up to eight weeks you can go back to your bank and say I want that money back, no questions asked,” says Rice.
He says while the rule has applied in France and Germany for years and hasn’t caused great difficulty, it is causing some concern here.
“The notion that you can consume goods and services, pay for them and then unpay is probably a bit over the top, so we’ll have to see how it plays out here – but that’s what banks and businesses are now building their systems around.”
Sepa will allow Irish consumers to bank wherever it suits them and wherever they can get the best terms. For those with a beef with Irish banks, February 1st won’t come fast enough.
What’s new? Get to know Sepa
The Single Euro Payments Area, or Sepa, will simplify and reduce the cost of cross-border electronic payments. Some 33 countries have signed up to Sepa. The 17 euro currency countries will switch on February 1st, 2014, and the rest by October 31st, 2016.
Get familiar with your BIC and IBAN number. You’ll find them on your paper or electronic bank statements.
From February 1st, you can pay utility bill direct debits and charges in participating countries from your Irish bank account. There is no need for an overseas account.
Those working anywhere in the Sepa zone can have their wages paid directly into their Irish bank account, while wages in Ireland can be paid into an account in those countries.
Remember, payments in currencies other than euro to or from non-Sepa countries, including the UK, may still attract foreign exchange charges and higher transaction fees.