18 characters and counting

Via nu.nl, I found out that the countries that form the EU our slowly moving forward with the introduction of the Single European Payments Area (SEPA). SEPA is a framework for a unified payment system that (should) make European cross-border payments easier for businesses and citizens. According to the SEPA site (ECB):

The goal is to turn the individual national retail payment markets into one pan-European market. For customers, SEPA means that payments to any person in the euro area will be quick and uncomplicated.

Notice that the European banking industry is in charge of the project and they have set a list of time lines and milestones for the next couple of years. Milestones include (for example) changes to account numbers and deprecation of the PIN (number) system for bank cards. Account numbers will now adhere to the IBAN standard and include a country code, the bank number and a checksum number. (You can apparently test your new bank number right at the IBAN site1). So, if your ABN AMRO bank number was 123456789, your new number will be NL69ABNA1234567892.

The SEPA site also offers detailed migration plans from all EU nations. Interestingly, the Dutch migration plan is listed here (PDF). Also, of interest is the country’s ‘migration concerns’ document which lists 10 points of concerns including the inevitable question that there’s a need for ‘guarantees that prices will not go up’.

Update: Google News link on latest SEPA news, or if you’re technologically inclined, a Google alert.

1 Quoting from a movie here: IS IT SAFE, IS IT SAFE!

2 This bank number example came straight from the Dutch migration plan.

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