SEPA has been designed in co-operation with EU member states to boost crossborder sales of goods and services for improved economic growth.

The new payments system will be fully functional by 2010, by which time people will be able to authorise money transfers, direct debits and use payment cards anywhere in the EU from a single bank account.

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The EU estimates the annual cost of making payments through the continent’s disparate banking systems is up to 3% of economic activity whereas an overarching system would save $40.5bn a year.