EBA Clearing’s STEP2 SEPA Payments Platform to be Upgraded and Used in Germany

EBA Clearing is to take over the processing of a major part of Germany’s payment volumes after it announced at the EBADay trade show in Berlin today that a large number of German financial institutions (FIs), including Commerzbank, will move to its STEP2 pan-European payments processing system. The pre-announced move will happen this year ahead of the 1 February 2014 migration deadline for the single euro payments area (SEPA) and the automated clearing house (ACH) is also upgrading the resilience of its STEP2 platform in co-operation with SIA and IBM to cut recovery times in half. 

The STEP2 platform will gradually take over the processing of a major part of German mass payment volumes from the second half of this year, says EBA Clearing.

STEP2 will support at least seven major players in the German payments market in exchanging national credit transfers and direct debits over to the SEPA formats (SCTs and SDDs). In the course of this changeover from legacy to SEPA formats, EBA Clearing’s pan-European automated clearing house (PE-ACH) will progressively replace the direct bilateral exchange of national mass payments currently taking place between the individual FIs via the German ‘Garagenclearing’ system.

In a move similar to their current bilateral exchange approach, the German FIs will pre-sort their files by receiving bank, to facilitate faster and more efficient processing. The participating institutions are already using STEP2 for the settlement of their present SEPA volumes.

“As a pan-European system, STEP2 enables banks to channel all their euro retail transactions within Europe through one clearing system,” said Christian Rhino, divisional board member for banking operations at Commerzbank. “Concentrating our mass payments on one central platform allows us to minimise our administrative and monitoring efforts and to improve our liquidity management in this area.”

STEP 2 Upgrade Enhances Resiliency

Separately, EBA Clearing also announced at the EBADay payments show in Berlin, Germany, that the resilience of its STEP2 platform will be enhanced in co-operation with Italian financial IT provider SIA and IBM.

The aim is to reduce the fall-back recovery time from four hours to two between its two main European PE-ACH processing sites. The improvement to service levels will be implemented by 1 July 2013. A third site is also currently being implemented in co-operation with the two IT providers, to further increase resiliency and capacity ahead of the SEPA end date next year. This third facility will be available for testing by November 2013.

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