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SEPA: A logic consequence following the introduction of the euro.

SEPA set to launch in 2008

RZB initiates information campaign

Paymentsare easier, quicker and more efficient

From the beginning of 2008, a new era will begin for European paymenttransactions. A total of 31 European countries, including all EUMembers, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, have agreed ona joint procedure and thus moved to create a uniform Single EuroPayments Area (SEPA)."SEPA is a logical consequence of introducing theeuro," said Manfred Url, member of the managing board responsible fortransaction services at RZB."If we look at adopting the euro as thefirst step, we can view SEPA as the second step. In the future,transactions will not only be carried out using a single currency, theywill also be handled according to a single set of uniform procedures."

Starting today, RZB is launching a broad-based information campaign forits customers in order to ensure a smooth transition to the SEPAsystems. Discussing the timeframe for SEPA, Gonther Gall, head of thetransaction services department at RZB, explained"We have been workingintensely on the preparations for more than three years. Now, all thesystems are ready for operation and all we need to do is to inform ourcustomers." A SEPA Symposium is held today at RZB to get the ballrolling for the information campaign. About 90 customers will attendthis information event which will provide a comprehensive overview onall aspects of SEPA.

SEPA embodies the European Union''s goal of creating of single Europeanpayments area, with uniform products, rules and systems, in order tostrengthen Europe''s competitiveness. European consumers will benefitfrom the uniform legal framework and standardized products, which willreplace the national payment systems and the various legal frameworks.SEPA features standardized technical formats for transfers, collectionorders and card payments. By 2010, the current multitude of regionaltechnical formats will have disappeared for the most part. The launchdate for SEPA is January 2008, from then on, the new standards will beapplied, starting with transfers. The new SEPA collection procedures arescheduled for launch from November 2009.

Easier for customers

The massive scope of new regulations such as SEPA becomes clear when onelooks at the details on payment transactions: some 73 billion electronictransfers by 470 million people in Europe will be handled in theSEPA-area every year. Throughout Europe, there are 9,000 banks and326,000 automatic banking machines which are affected by these newregulations. With SEPA, payments will be easier, quicker and moreefficient.

SEPA will make payment transactions easier and faster for customerscompared to the current status of national and pan-European payments.Right now, there are as many payment systems in Europe as there arecountries. Thanks to SEPA, these systems will be merged into a uniformframework and at the same time standardized rules for handling paymentswill be introduced. Banks are planning on offering their customers thenew pan-European SEPA instruments for transfers, collections and creditor debit cards from January 2008 in order to make payments in the EU asquick, easy and cheap as domestic payments.

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Raiffeisen Zentralbank Osterreich AG (RZB) is the central institution ofthe Austrian Raiffeisen Banking Group, the country''s largest bankinggroup. It is a leading corporate and investment bank in Austria and alsoconsiders Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) as its home market. RZB isthe only Austrian bank with a global network of business units reachingall important finance centres around the globe. It is also present inAsia via its branches and representative offices.

Via listed subsidiary Raiffeisen International Bank-Holding AG, RZBoperates the largest banking network in CEE. 18 markets are covered bysubsidiary banks, finance leasing companies and two representativeoffices. Approximately 12.5 million customers are attended to throughmore than 2,900 business outlets.

For further information please contact Andreas Ecker-Nakamura (+43-1-71707-1753, or Gregor Bitschnau (+43-1-71 707-1955,,


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