European bankers expect the Single Euro Payments Area initiative to cost them a significant amount of revenue and raise their expenses, according to a report Fundtech Ltd. released this week.

The Jersey City software vendor polled 57 banking executives at its international client forum in London in February; 44% of the respondents predicted it would take more than five years to replace the lost revenue from complying with Sepa, and 13% said they will never be able to recover the losses.

The Sepa initiative is meant to create a single automated clearing house network to replace the 25 national systems in the euro zone. The first Sepa-compliant systems, for credit-push transfers, were launched in January. Direct debit systems are scheduled to be in place by November of next year, but 41% of Fundtech's respondents predicted that the deadline would have to be extended.

The bankers also said that Sepa, which uses the ISO 20022 messaging format, would boost electronic invoice presentment and payments, which could increase revenue and cut costs. In the Fundtech survey, 38% of the respondents said between a quarter and half of their corporate clients would adopt electronic invoicing and payments over the next three years, and 15% predicted that more than half their clients would adopt such systems.

A group called the International Payments Framework Group is working to establish a legal and operational framework to make compatible ACH transactions in the United States and Europe.