This conclusion can be drawn from an impact assessment held three months after the start of the Switch to IBAN campaign, which informs businesses of the advent of the longer account number and urges them to make their business operations IBAN-proof in good time. This is a worrying conclusion. As of 1 February 2014, no account numbers other than IBAN will be valid, while credit transfers and direct debits will have to meet the new standards. Everyone across Europe will then make payments in the same way: with an IBAN account number and with payment instruments that are the same for national and cross-border euro payments.The impact assessment among the business sector (small and medium-sized businesses with five to 250 employees) shows that more than a third still have no idea which actions are required. More than 60% have not yet taken any concrete steps.
Business sector not adequately prepared for migration to IBAN
|Date||28 August 2012|
The business sector is aware of the migration to IBAN, but is not yet making adequate preparations. IBAN is the longer international bank account number that will be introduced by 1 February 2014 at the latest. The sense of urgency about the need to take steps is lacking and the awareness about the required actions appears low.
Awareness of IBAN is high
The campaign has, however, had a strong impact on the awareness of the switch to IBAN, among both private individuals and the business sector. Close on 90% of private individuals know what IBAN is and 90% have a neutral to positive attitude towards it. The same holds for the business sector.
Targets 1st year
|Private persons||Aim after 1st year||Level June 2012|
|Knows what IBAN is||75%||88% (62%)|
|Knows where to find IBAN||75%||38%|
|Knows why IBAN was introduced||75%||81%|
|Neutral stance towards introduction||60%||94%|
|Business sector:||Aim after 1st year||Level June 2012|
|Knows that action is required||80%||58%|
|Neutral stance towards introduction||60%||95%|
Switch to IBAN campaign
The campaign targeted the entire business sector and all private individuals holding bank accounts. De Nederlandsche Bank is coordinating the campaign and the whole migration on behalf of the National Forum for SEPA Migration which is managing the migration to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). An important element in the migration is the switch from the national bank account number, which has no more than nine digits, to the International Bank Account Number (IBAN). In the Netherlands this IBAN is made up of 18 alphanumeric characters following a strict format: firstly NL as the country code, then two check digits, a four-digit bank code, one or more zeros and finally the account holder's own existing bank account number.
Emphasis on the business sector
In the autumn the campaign will focus on increasing the business sector's willingness to take action. Although 1 February 2014 now seems far off, time will be pressing, especially for a business that uses both standard and bespoke software or was created after a merger that gave rise to a complex back office. Radio adverts will be broadcast to urge businesses to act swiftly and concrete action lists – tailored to the size of businesses – will be posted on the campaign website. The website will also present best practices. And – in close cooperation with banks, the Dutch SME Association (MKB) and the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (VNO/NCW) – the campaign will actively approach branch offices.