The Central Bank has today urged businesses to be prepared for the changes to electronic payments due to come into effect from next February. 

The bank said that with less than three months to go to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) deadline, almost 30% of companies have yet to complete their SEPA preparations.

Many businesses have yet to schedule a changeover date with their bank, it added.
SEPA is an EU initiative that will change the way euro electronic payments are processed across participating countries.

It will allow users of payment services to make and receive payments using common technical standards and common payment instruments, therefore creating a more efficient, borderless payments area.  

The gradual migration of credit transfer and direct debit payments to the SEPA standards has been underway for some time now, but will become mandatory from February 1, 2014.
"Failure to adopt the SEPA standards will mean that payments files submitted to banks after February 1, 2014 will be rejected and payments will not be made or collected, under the EU regulation," commented the Central Bank's director of Financial Operations Maurice McGuire.

"It is vital that businesses understand the potential consequences for those who fail to make the necessary changes," he added. 

SEPA covers payments between 33 countries - the 28 member states of the European Union, together with Iceland, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Norway and Switzerland.