VocaLink, Equens, Iberpay, Seceti and Stet have jointly agreed to establish interoperability for the exchange of single euro payments area (SEPA) payments. Together, the clearing and settlement mechanisms (CSMs) forming this agreement handled over €18bn in direct debit and credit transfer payments in 2006. The group has now commenced testing over SWIFTNet FileAct, and is preparing for the necessary arrangements to ensure interoperability is a reality for the launch of the single euro payments area (SEPA). This agreement is designed to create a competitive market for CSM services by allowing banks to choose the processor or processors that best meet their needs. Bilateral interoperability agreements between CSMs will enable the simple and efficient exchange of SEPA payments between CSM communities and other actors (such as banks and their customers) in the payment chain. These agreements provide the banks of one community with a fast, cheap, low-risk method of achieving reach with the banks of other communities. The agreement will see the first implementation of the Technical Interoperability Framework version 3.0 that was produced and approved by the European Automated Clearing House Association (EACHA) on 31 August 2007. The framework complements the SEPA standards created by the EPC and adheres to SEPA scheme rules. EACHA designed the framework to help establish interoperability between banks and CSMs as well as interoperability between European CSMs for payments that will have to be cleared and settled for banks participating in different CSMs.
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