Seven major German banks are to adopt EBA Clearing’s pan-European payment infrastructure for mass payments, Step2, in order to process Sepa-compliant domestic payments in euros.

The plan to adopt Step2 was announced at the payments conference EBAday in Berlin and will support at least seven German payment banks in exchanging national credit transfers and direct debits in the Sepa formats.

The new system will replace the direct bilateral exchange of national mass payments currently taking place between the individual financial institutions under the ‘Garagenclearing’ process.

Christian Rhino, divisional board member, banking operations, Commerzbank, said: "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."

According to the ECB, about one third of all Sepa credit transfers and almost 75% of all Sepa direct debits processed by mass payment systems in the euro zone are exchanged via Step2. In addition to cross-border payments, the platform also processes the domestic payment traffic of the banking communities in Finland, Luxembourg and Ireland.

In anticipation of a surge in domestic Sepa payments leading up to the Sepa-migration end date in February 2014, EBA Clearing will open a third processing site, and introduce a German customer support service.

The third site is being implemented in co-operation with SIA and IBM and will be available for testing by November 2013.

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