The Italian infrastructure for clearing and settlement of retail payments (Clearing and Settlement Mechanism - CSM) ICBPI/BI-COMP, operated by Banca d'Italia and Istituto Centrale delle Banche Popolari Italiane (ICBPI), and VocaLink are collaborating to establish a link for the exchange of Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) payments based on the European Automated Clearing House Association (EACHA) interoperability standards.

The customers of the two CSMs will thus be able to count on a new way of achieving mutual reach, with no need for participation in the reachable CSM.

The provision of reciprocal interconnection services between the CSMs managed by VocaLink and ICBPI/Banca d’Italia, allowing them to mutually exchange (and settle in TARGET2) SEPA compliant payments on behalf of their respective banking communities, will contribute to the SEPA aim of developing a fully integrated and competitive retail market with no differences between national and cross-border payments.

VocaLink and ICBPI/Banca d’Italia plan to enable their customers to execute SEPA credit transfers already in the course of Q2 2010. Afterwards the CSMs will start assessing the extension of the interoperability to the SDDs as well.

Franco Passacantando, managing director for central banking, markets and payment system area at Banca d’Italia, said: “The planned interoperability of the Italian clearing system with the UK’s VocaLink Euro CSM represents a further initiative taken by Banca d’Italia to fully support the SEPA, also by means of direct provision of services. It is a necessary step towards the integration of the single European market for retail payments.”

Giuseppe Capponcelli, general manager at ICBPI, said: “SEPA brings unique challenges for European banks and corporates. ICBPI’s involvement in an interoperability arrangement with VocaLink will allow us to provide additional services to banks working with either party.”

Giacinto Cosenza, country manager for Italy at VocaLink, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Italian infrastructures in this strategically important market. This is a major milestone on the path to deliver VocaLink’s SEPA solutions to the Italian market while further growing our CSM reach in continental Europe.”