The EBA (Euro Banking Association) on occasion of its General Meeting held in Verona on May 24, 2002 decided to appoint SIA (Societ Interbancaria per l’Automazione) as the technology partner to build and operate the new pan-European Automated Clearing House for mass payments in Euro.
STEP2 is the new EBA service that, besides completing the EBA offering, will automate bulk low value, high volume inter-bank payments within the European Union. Thanks to STEP2, cross-border and domestic retail payments will be sent as files to the EBA/SIA operation center and will be then processed, cleared and sent for settlement. Settlement Services will be provided either directly by banks, through settlement agent banks or through Central banks. STEP2 will be accessible through SWIFTNet as well as other secure communication networks.
Roberto Mori, SIA Chairman, expressed his satisfaction about the EBA decision commenting that: “In the ’90s, while working for Bank of Italy, I had the opportunity to witness the evolution of the interbanking payment systems in Italy and its success thanks to state-of-the-art technology, solutions and services provided by SIA. Today I am proud to acknowledge that SIA, providing its services to EBA, can play the same role in Europe. And I am sure we will experience the same successful results.”
Olivier Mas, EBA Chairman, pointed out that “the EBA’s decision to appoint SIA is an important signal to the banks in Europe that by mid-2003 the EBA’s pan-European ACH will be available to process cross-border and domestic bulk payments at cost levels which will be comparable to those of existing domestic ACHs. Using STEP2 will help the banks to meet their customers’ needs in the Single Euro Payments Area.”
Renzo Vanetti, SIA CEO, said that “the EBA choice confirms SIA’s capability to leverage its many years of experience with payment systems, and ensures that cross-border payments in the Euro zone will be successfully processed at a speed comparable to domestic systems. The additional value in concentrating all inter-bank operations in a unique Clearing House System, is that participants to the system will be able to benefit from economies of scale generated by large volumes. As a result, price for banks will be highly competitive”.
Gilbert Lichter, EBA Secretary General, said “we were impressed with SIA proven domestic and international experience and specific track record with payment systems. In addition, we share a common European vision which is to serve the banks in the Single Euro Payments Area through new pan-European infrastructures.”
Giuseppe Zadra, ABI General Manager and SIA Vice Chairman, commented that “the Italian Banking Association (ABI), SIA main shareholder, expressed delight with the EBA decision to appoint SIA for such a prestigious role. ABI believes that such an achievement on one side recognizes the innovation drive and efforts demonstrated in Italy in Payment Systems and on the other, once again, confirms SIA’s technology capabilities in the financial market”.
Maurizio Sella, EBF (European Banking Federation) Chairman and ABI Chairman, commented that “cross-border payments are a strategic issue for the European Union and welcomes EBA’s decision to implement STEP2 with SIA. STEP2 represents a milestone toward the achievement of a harmonized Single Euro Payment Area, and all the Italian banks will support this project by gradually moving their domestic and European payments into STEP2, which we strongly believe will become the Single European Clearing House”.