OREANDA-NEWS. June 08, 2012. Representatives of the central bank, the Estonian Banking Association, the Ministry of Finance and market participants gathered at Eesti Pank yesterday to launch their cooperation aimed at ensuring a smooth transition to SEPA-compliant payments and settlements.

Established in April, the primary objective of the Estonian Payment Environment Forum is to ensure, in cooperation with the market participants, the compliance of ordinary payments and direct debits effected in Estonia with the pan-European SEPA conditions by February 2014. This will provide individuals and companies with the possibility of using a single bank account and payment card for effecting euro payments all over Europe. The central bank, the Ministry of Finance and, above all, the Estonian Banking Association, will base their decisions regarding migration to SEPA on the discussions to be held within the framework of the forum.

"The aim of the forum is to involve all parties in the preparation of the SEPA-related changes - banks, companies, traders, state agencies and consumer representatives. It is also crucial for the IT system and accounting software developers to facilitate the migration to SEPA and assist companies in the process. The forum has been designed to engage the know-how and skills required for a smooth transition to SEPA payments, which will affect all Estonian people in 20 months' time," said Madis Mьller, deputy governor of Eesti Pank.

By the beginning of 2014, all commercial banks must have developed new payment solutions, with companies required to upgrade their accounting software and improve invoice management. Eesti Pank must upgrade the inter-bank retail payment system in order to maintain the current quality of domestic inter-bank payments, allow for the settlement of cross-border euro payments and ensure equal conditions of competition for all banks involved.