‘We adopted different strategies for smaller and larger companies,’ says Barry Manning, of Danske
Danske Bank Ireland started communicating with its customers about the impact of SEPA around the middle of 2012.
“We did some press and radio ads and put a lot of information on our website in order to generate awareness of SEPA and what it means,” says Barry Manning, head of cash management with Dankse. “We also developed a dedicated SEPA website to make all of our knowledge and information in relation to SEPA available in one place.”
According to Manning, the new payment system can mean different things to businesses depending on what sector they operate in or what size they are. “We appointed SEPA champions for the different business segments and we adopted different strategies for smaller and larger companies. For our smaller customers we are doing the SEPA changeover for them, for our larger customers we are doing it with them.”
He says this approach makes sense for those small customers which do not have complex payment needs and can be accommodated by the bank. Larger customers required a different service.
“We sat down with our larger customers over a year ago and talked to them about the need to prepare. It was very hands on and we found out that, the more they looked into it, the more concerned they got. It’s not just about the bank doing the work. There is a requirement for businesses to ensure that their systems are compliant. This is particularly important for companies with large direct debit volumes.”
The other issue for large organisations is the broad impact of the payments area. “With large organisations SEPA’s impact isn’t confined to the accounts or finance areas”, he says. “Procurement, HR and a variety of other areas are also affected and that has to be dealt with as well.”
The bank has already started working with customers to facilitate testing of systems. “Our SEPA champions are co-ordinating this work. Companies who have gone through the preparation process need to be able to test their systems to ensure they work.”
Manning says Danske had a headstart on the payments system due to its international experience. “We made the decision three or four years ago to start designing systems that mimicked SEPA so that we would be ready for it when it came. We also have experience from Finland which adopted SEPA back in 2011. Danske Bank Finland’s systems have been tried and tested there and we have been able to give our customers the benefit of that experience.”