Irish companies and last-minute SEPA preparations

Despite information campaigns by the Central Bank of Ireland and IPSO it appears that the vast majority of companies have yet to start making the necessary preparations for the national adoption of SEPA standards.

The results of a survey conducted by The Irish Small and Medium Enterprise Association were recently published in a report that provides some valuable insights into the SEPA readiness of SMEs operating in Ireland.

The report suggests that 71% of SMEs have yet to start preparing for SEPA, and that only one in four of that same group are aware of the impact that SEPA will have on their organisations. These figures are rather worrying and indicate a clear lack of initiative on the part of the Central Bank to target SMEs as part of their information campaign.

What’s more the report also claims that only 36% of participants have received direct communications from a third party informing them of the changes that SEPA will bring. It appears that the majority of this information came from banks (51%) with other stakeholders making negligible contributions like software providers (6%) and Government departments (8%).

Perhaps the most curious statistic to come out of the report was the revelation that only 1% of Irish SMEs consider themselves to be fully SEPA compliant. With only 37% of respondents aware of the compulsory compliance date (February 1st 2014).

What insight can be gained from the analysis of this report? At a superficial level it is quite obvious that many small and medium sized Irish companies are leaving SEPA preparations until the last minute. But another conclusion that could be inferred is that the SME sector is being badly neglected by the government parties involved in driving national SEPA migration, namely the NPP SEPA steering committee and the Central Bank of Ireland.

It may be the case that these public sector bodies have missed a vital window of opportunity to assist SMEs with SEPA changeover procedures. It may now become the responsibility of those operating in the private sector to provide tailored information and assistance to SMEs attempting to make sense of SEPA and what it means for their organisations.