THE CONDITIONS for making domestic and foreign payments in Slovakia will unify with the rest of the European Union as of February, when the so-called SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) is implemented, which will be launched throughout the entire EU and another five European countries. This means that everyone will be able to send and receive payments in euros in the selected areas.

The aim of SEPA is to remove differences in currency since, although most of the EU countries have the same currency, the payment systems have been very fragmented, said Karol Mrva, executive director of the financial market operations department of the National Bank of Slovakia (NBS), as reported by the SITA newswire.

According to him, SEPA will benefit both companies and ordinary people.

“SEPA will significantly simplify the life of companies since they will have only one form of payment, and within a bank they will have the same conditions, [and] the payment will be attributed to the receiver’s account very quickly,” Mrva told the press on January 20, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Mrva added that the system will also benefit ordinary people, as they will make payments through a single payment order. Moreover, it will lower the cost of information systems and make payment systems easier, he said, as reported by TASR.

After the changes come into effect, Slovakia will use the number of the account in international IBAN format, which will have 24 symbols. This is four symbols more than what Slovakia uses now, said Peter Holička, general director of the payment systems department of the NBS, as cited by TASR.

The biggest changes will apply to money orders used to pay recurring bills. As of February 1, companies that collect such payments, like electricity and gas providers, will need their customers’ consent before they can deposit the payments. Currently the customer has to give the consent to the bank. Existing money orders will, however, remain valid, Holička stressed.

Moreover, people will also be able to use money orders for cross-border transactions, to pay for things like school fees or subscriptions. Additionally, if someone does not have enough money in his account, he will not have the right to automatically resend the money order. Under the new rules, the client will instead have to ask the bank to resend the payment, or to find another way to pay it, TASR wrote.

Anyone who pays with money orders will also be able to ask for the money to be returned without any explanation within two months, the Sme daily wrote.

Though it is possible that the banks will try to get the money back, they will invest into a new system, and there is still a chance that bank services will eventually become cheaper, Mrva said, as reported by SITA.

Source: SITA, TASR, Sme

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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