Paris, 29 April 2004

EBA STEP2 and the new EU members states

12 Month of Successful Operations and right on time for Banks in the new EU member states

In the course of May 2004, 19 banks from the New EU Member States will join STEP2 as Indirect Participants. “We are very pleased to see the interest of the banks in the New EU Members States to join STEP2 for their euro payments”, says Alan Taylor, Head of Bank Relations at EBA Clearing.

In April 2003, the EBA Clearing Company launched the first pan-European ACHservice for euro retail payments. Over the past 12 months, 59 banks from the EU15 connected to the system as Direct Participants and over 1200 banks joined as indirect participants.

Today, the STEP2 system processes in average 100,000 payments per day with peak days of almost 200,000 transactions. STEP2 is now widely recognised as the Pan-European Automated Clearing House (PE-ACH), since it can provide for payment distribution to all banks operating in the EU15. Discussions are well underway to extend the system’s reach also to the banks in the 10 New EU Member States.

EBA Clearing is currently preparing the launch of a pan-European direct debit processing service on the STEP2 platform. This service is aimed at supporting the upcoming Pan-European Direct Debit scheme, as well as the requirements of banks intending to migrate their domestic traffic to STEP2.

Reviewing the first 12 months of STEP2 operations, Jean-Marie Avadian, Chairman of EBA Clearing, said: “Since its launch, the number of banks joining STEP2 as both direct and indirect participants has been steadily increasing. This trend is likely to continue for another 12 to 16 months. To be above 100,000 payments a day at this stage indicates that more and more banks are switching from correspondent banking to STEP2. It also underlines that STEP2 supports the banks in meeting their customer requirements in the new Single Euro Payments Area.”

“Our objective for this year is to reach all banks across the New EU Member States, says Gilbert Lichter, CEO of EBA Clearing. We believe that it is our mission to help the commercial banks in these countries to join the euro payments circuits and to facilitate their migration into the Single Euro Payments Area.”