The European Payments Council has confirmed that from 1 May 2016 Guernsey will become part of the geographical scope of the direct debit and credit transfer schemes of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA).

Commenting on the announcement, Guernsey's Commerce and Employment Minister, Deputy Kevin Stewart, said the announcement was excellent news.

"It gives those of our banks that wish to do so the opportunity to join the SEPA direct debit and credit transfer schemes, and thus to offer their customers the benefits that these secure and efficient schemes provide for payments in euros. Not all banks will necessarily wish to do so, but this provides them with the choice. As many of our largest banks have operations in more than one of the three islands, it is important that all three are joining SEPA together."

In addition to Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man have also become part of the geographical scope. Deputy Stewart said the announcement reflected a lot of hard and well-coordinated work over several years by industry, government and regulators in the three jurisdictions, working closely with their respective Brussels offices.

"I also would like to take the opportunity to put on record our appreciation for the excellent working relations we have established with the European Payments Council (EPC), and also for the support we have received from Payments UK," he said.

Javier Santamaría, Chair of the EPC, said: "I welcome the fact that from 1 May Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man will be included in the geographic scope of the SEPA schemes. The three jurisdictions are active European banking centres and their inclusion in SEPA will represent a natural extension of the scope of these schemes. I am pleased at the good cooperation that has developed between the EPC and the three jurisdictions over the course of the application process and we look forward to building on this."

Andy Veron, Chairman of the Association of Guernsey Banks, said: "The Association of Guernsey Banks welcomes the announcement from the EPC. This initiative has been a good example of engagement between local industry and government as we strive to ensure that the best level of payment services can be delivered to our customers."

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