Brussels, 27 May 2003

EBA CLEARING launches STEP 2 the first pan-European ach for retail payments

The EBA Clearing Company has launched the first pan-European ACH-service for retail payments in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). Over the coming months 53 pilot banks will connect to the system.

The launch, ahead of the entry into force of the EC Regulation 2560/2001 on crossborder payments, means that the participating banks across SEPA will be in a position to offer their clients a reliable, rapid and very cost-effective euro clearing service for Regulation-compliant transfers.

STEP2 has been developed together with SIA S.p.A. as technology partner and with SWIFT as messaging partner. STEP2 is able to transact in its initial configuration up to 5 million payments per day. STEP2 has been developed in a record period of 10 months.

With STEP2, the EBA Clearing Company now offers a comprehensive clearing and settlement service to the banks in the EU for both their single high-value payments and their retail mass payments. Since 1998, the Clearing Company has been working consistently on infrastructure developments that help the banks reducing costs and meeting their customers’ new requirements in a Single Currency Area.

“The launch of STEP2 marks another historic day for the EBA Clearing Company”, said Willy Scheerlinck, Chairman of EBA Clearing. “We are very pleased with the industry’s recognition of STEP2. Banks participating in STEP2 will be in a better position to meet the new requirements posed by the Single Euro Payments Area, be they at the level of customers’ needs or regulatory constraints.” 

Gilbert Lichter, CEO of EBA Clearing, pointed out that “Europe urgently needed a pan-European infrastructure to handle retail payments in a speedy and low-cost manner. We were quite eager to take up this challenge. Today we are delighted that we can demonstrate our readiness well in advance of the implementation of the EC’s Regulation on cross-border transfers.”

“SIA committed to delivering the STEP2 service in May 2002. In cooperation with the EBA and SWIFT, SIA delivered in 10 months time – as planned - a 50 man/year technology project, showing the company’s credibility and total commitment. We are proud to be EBA’s partner in delivering this service, the first of many others to be developed for building a unique Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA) in Europe,” Renzo Vanetti, CEO of SIA noted.

Johan Kestens, Head of New Business Development, SWIFT comments, "SWIFT is pleased to have been able to contribute its core competencies of global reach, open standards and highest levels of security to making STEP2 a reality. 

Note to Editors:

EC Regulation 2560/2001 on cross border payments requires banks in the euro zone to offer cross-border euro retail payments at the same price as corresponding domestic retail payments, provided that the payment order includes an IBAN (International Bank Account Number) and a BIC (Bank Identifier Code). Implementation of the Regulation has been foreseen in two phases. The first phase has started with immediate effect on 1 July 2002 and has regulated card-based payment transactions, the second phase starts on 1 July 2003 and will regulate credit transfers.

The EBA Clearing Company,, was established in May 1998 by 52 banks to own and operate the EURO1 large-value payment system and, thereafter, the STEP1 low-value payment system. EURO1 and STEP1 provide an efficient, secure and costeffective infrastructure to the banks in Europe for channelling their commercial and largevalue cross-border payments. EURO1 and STEP1 are based on the messaging infrastructure and computing facilities provided by SWIFT. EURO1 settles at the end of the day via a settlement account at the European Central Bank. The average number of daily transactions processed by the EURO1 and STEP1 systems today amounts to over 160,000 for a total value in excess of € 200 billion. Today, EURO1 comprises 74 direct bank participants and 40 indirect participants; STEP1 includes over 200 participants. As from April 2003, EBA Clearing is managing and operating its newest STEP2 service, a pan-European ACH-service for mass payments in euro, tailored to the bank requirements for processing EC Regulation-compliant credit transfers.

The Euro Banking Association,, includes over 190 member banks from all EU countries, the United States, Switzerland, Norway, Australia and Japan. EBA was founded in 1985 by 18 commercial banks and the European Investment Bank, with the support of the European Commission. Today, the EBA acts as a forum for the European payments industry and fosters the development of pan-European payment system initiatives.


Founded in 1977, Società Interbancaria per l’Automazione,, has been since then the leading technology partner for the Italian financial market and now confirming its leadership at the international level. With a turnover of more than € 206 million and 740 employees, SIA handled 3,3 billion low value payment transactions, equivalent to € 1,871 billion within the Retail Clearing System and over 10 million BI-REL high value payment transactions in 2002.


The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication,, is the industry-owned cooperative supplying secure messaging services and interface software to 7,000 financial institutions in 198 countries. SWIFT provides messaging services to banks, broker/dealers and investment managers, as well as to market infrastructures in payments, treasury, securities and trade. These services help customers reduce costs, improve automation and manage risk