Belgian banks complete migration to SEPA CSM
The Belgian Centre for Exchange and Clearing – the country’s automated interbank retail payment system – has been completely migrated to a new Clearing and Settlement Mechanism developed and operated by French payment processing specialist STET.
The new CEC CSM now handles the full spectrum of payment instruments, covering both legacy instruments and the new Single Euro Payments Area Credit Transfer and Direct Debit instruments.
After several months of testing, the system began live operations on 22 February 2013. The migration was completed on 26 March, ending a year-long project that was managed by Accenture, which also helped the Belgian banks to select the vendors and messaging solution that underpin the project.
Sixteen direct and 55 indirect participants are now exchanging different payment instruments via STET with an average daily volume of 4 million operations.
The architecture allows the Belgian domestic community to share operational costs and future development costs with the French community and potentially new STET communities, while retaining full governance over its system and full control over domestic needs.
The model is the first sizeable technical platform shared between different communities, say the operators.
“Through this migration, Belgium once again confirms its forerunner position in SEPA as it is the first community to fully complete the move from the domestic infrastructure to a European platform,” said Tom Van Der Biest of BNP Paribas Fortis and chairman of the Programme Steering Committee. “We are very happy with the way that this extremely important, systemic and strategic project was completed and are impressed by the high professionalism shown by STET and all participants to the project.”
Jean-Pic Berry, chief executive of STET, said that the success of the project is thanks “largely to the very pragmatic and professional management of the project by the Belgium banks”. It also marks the first step towards the consolidation of the European payment market, he added. “We are confident that more European communities will join our multi-CSM platform in the coming years”
Since the start of the SEPA project, the Belgian banking community has been looking for an alternative to the current processing by the CEC which offers possibilities for evolution and volume discount effect. In 2010 it launched a request for proposal for the processing of the Belgian payments and selected STET as the preferred partner.
Founded in 2004, STET is owned by five major French banks and delivers processing, clearing and settlement services for the full range of payment instruments. Its CORE payments processing platform was designed to meet the challenges facing banks through the implementation of SEPA and to lay the foundations for the move to new payment instruments and services over time. It operates in real-time for all payment instruments and is benchmarked at being capable of handling 30 million transactions an hour in its current configuration.