Starting from 1 February 2014, the Italian credit transfer and direct debit payment (RID) systems will be replaced by the SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) payment systems, the SEPA Credit Transfer (STC) and the SEPA Direct Debit (SDD).

The migration to the new payment systems by 1 February 2014 will not involve the so called “financial direct debits” (that are used for payments of financial instruments) and the fixed amount direct debits, that shall be replaced by SDDs by 1 February 2016.

The creditors must communicate to their debtors/clients the migration to the new SEPA payment systems at least 30 days before the envisaged date of migration. Therefore, since the end date for the migration is 1 February 2014, such communication shall be made not later than 31 December 2013.

In addition to banks and payment services providers, the migration to the SEPA payment systems will mainly impact on those creditors that receive payments through direct debits.

In particular, the main changes related to the SEPA direct debit system can be summarized as follows:

SEPA Mandate

  • RID mandates will be replaced by SEPA mandates, which shall be drafted in accordance with the schemes contained in the European Payments Council Rulebooks;
  • SEPA mandates will be granted by the debtors directly to their creditors, unlike the RID mandates, which are  currently given to the debtor’s bank;

Existing RID mandates

  • creditors will be entitled to collect payments on the basis of the existing RID mandates, without obtaining new SEPA mandates. In fact, RID mandates will be automatically converted into SEPA mandates, provided that the creditor indicates in the collection message certain information (e.g. the debtor’s IBAN and the creditor’s ID) necessary in order to enable the bank to (i) link the collection message to an existing RID mandate and (ii) convert such RID mandate into a new SEPA mandate in its databases;

SDD Core and SDD B2B

  • depending on the classification of clients, there are two different types of SDDs: “Core Direct Debits”, that can be used for any kind of debtor (i.e. consumers and non-consumers), and the “B2B Direct Debits”, that can be used only for non-consumers (enterprises and micro enterprises). Only in case of payments made through the Core SDDs the debtor is entitled to request the refund within 8 weeks from the debit date (e.g. in case of errors), whilst currently the request of refund for RIDs can be made within 5 working days from the debit date.
  • for both SDDs Core and SDDs B2B the debtor can refuse  the transaction within the day before the debit date and he/she is entitled to request a refund within 13 months from the debit date in case of non-authorised transactions;

Pre-notification

  • at least 14 days before the debit date the creditor shall send to the debtor a pre-notification specifying the date and the amount to be debited;
  • the creditor and the debtor may agree (possibly in writing) upon a reduction of the 14 days term, also taking into account the time-line to send the collection to the debtor’s bank, which depending on the cases may be 5, 2 or 1 banking day before the debit date;
  • for recurrent payments it is possible to send a single pre-notification also as part of other commercial documents (e.g. an invoice).

Therefore, in order to carry out the migration to the SDD payment system, creditors shall, inter alia:

  • inform clients about the date envisaged for the migration with at least 30 days prior notice;
  • adapt their information systems  to the new SEPA standard for message format;
  • adapt the contractual documentation;
  • btain (from the clients or from the banks) the IBANs of the clients;
  • implement procedures in order to send the pre-notification;
  • obtain the creditor’s ID.