The Euro Banking Association (EBA) today confirmed that 32 banks are engaged in pilot-testing its STEP2 project to cut the costs of making small value payments across borders as cheap as their domestic equivalent.
The EBA also announced that a further ten banks have signalled their intention to join the enlargement stage of STEP2.
As part of the pilot phase of STEP2, the 32 banks have formed working groups to actively “accompany” the project implementation and undertake technical preparations required for STEP2, including systems programming, mapping out legal parameters, test scheduling and business practices formulation.
STEP2, an Automated Clearing House (ACH) for euro interbank payments, is being developed by the EBA and will provide a pan-European ACH solution for processing bulk payments. STEP2 is scheduled to go live in a pilot phase with the 32 banks during the first quarter of 2003, ahead of the European Commission’s regulation on the pricing of cross-border credit transfers which will come into effect on the 1st July 2003.
Gilbert Lichter, EBA Secretary General, said “Having 32 major European banks involved in this project provides a strong foundation. Their support demonstrates the overall demand for STEP2 as a truly pan-European ACH. The EBA has also received strong signals of interest from other banks, including several Central Banks contemplating joining STEP2 at the enlargement stage.”
Ten banks are presently registered to join the ‘enlargement group’ -although this number may increase in the interim. This group will be the first to use STEP2 once the pilot phase has been completed successfully. STEP2 will progressively develop through the introduction of new tranches of ‘enlargement groups’, as and when additional banks become ready to join the STEP 2 system.
Olivier Mas, EBA Chairman, said “Together, the pilot banks and these further 10 banks will be at the vanguard of a solution that meets the objectives and principles of the Single Euro Payments Area. Once STEP2 is live, the EBA will be strongly positioned as a broadly based clearing and settlement service provider open to all financial institutions in the EU for processing single payments and bulk payments in euro.”