ISME Survey reports that 71% of SME’s have no preparations made for SEPA

A recent survey conducted by ISME across a range of SME’s indicated that only one in four SME’s were aware of the impact of SEPA which is being rolled out across the entire banking system. 

ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, published its survey on SME’s preparedness for SEPA (Single European Payments Area). The results show the need for a better communication from banks and Government to businesses, where just one in four SMEs are aware of the potential impact of SEPA on their business, while 64% have not received any information on the issue.

Speaking at the survey launch, ISME CEO, Mark Fielding said: “SEPA is an important change in the national payments system and will affect small and medium businesses in varying degrees, depending on their method of receipts and payments. It is incumbent on banks to inform their customers in time to allow them to prepare for this change and once again they have been found wanting, with two thirds of SMEs bereft of information.”

The survey was carried out this week among a sample of 5,000 SME owner/managers with a response rate of 15% (736).

·         With less than nine months to implementation only 27% of respondents are aware of the impact of SEPA on their organisations’ processes and systems.

·         Of the 36% who had received information, half (51%) was from their bank, 31% from a business group, 8% from a Government department and 6% from their software provider. Newspapers and radio accounted for 3% and 1% respectively.

·         63% were unaware of the date of compliance of 1st February 2014, mirroring the result on the information question.

·         Only one in ten had discussed the implementation with their bank, while only 7% had discussed it with their software provider.

·         On the question of implementation and readiness, 71% had not started, while 28% were in early planning or implementation phase. Not surprisingly only 1% stated that they were already SEPA compliant.

A lack of preparation for SEPA will place some businesses at risk of delays, or even failure, in making and receiving payments to and from suppliers, staff and customers. Businesses will have to either modify existing IT platforms or develop new ones. It is critical that IT systems providers – either internal or external suppliers – are involved at the outset.

It is imperative that they talk to their bank about matters such as the SEPA payment services that they will be offering, payment file formats, facilities for conversion of existing NSC/BBAN account information to BIC/IBAN and managing their overall timetable for SEPA migration.

Fielding called on the banks to be more proactive in their promotion of SEPA and assist individual businesses by making available the support to identify appropriate strategies to implement necessary changes to ensure that the SME sector is prepared for the transition.

Companies using the outsource payroll services of Paycheck Plus can rest assured that their employee details and bank files will be amended to meet the SEPA requirements.  For more information on how Paycheck Plus can reduce your workload and make your payroll more efficient contact our payroll team today on +353 (0)41 686 3000 or request a call back at a time to suit you.