Paris, 9 July 2004

Six new direct Participants join EBA STEP2

STEP2 system scheduled to count 90 direkt participant Banks By The End of 2004

The EBA CLEARING Company today announced that an additional six banks successfully connected to the STEP2 system as Direct Participants at the beginning of July (see “Note to Editors” for the list of banks).

Furthermore, two banks from the United Kingdom, Royal Bank of Scotland and National Westminster Bank, intend to join STEP2 as Direct Participants before the end of July.

The number of Direct Participants has been continually increasing since the launch of STEP2 as the first pan-European Automated Clearing House (PE-ACH) in April 2003. With the six new banks included, the system now services a total of 65 Direct Participants and more than 1,200 Indirect Participants. EBA CLEARING expects to have 90 Direct Participants on the STEP2 platform by the end of this year.

Currently, the STEP2 system processes in average 100,000 payments per day. STEP2 is now widely recognised as the Pan-European Automated Clearing House (PE-ACH) since it is able to provide for payment distribution to all banks operating in the EU15.