The European Payments Council
The European Payments Council (EPC) is the coordination and decision-making body of the European banking industry in relation to payments. The purpose of the EPC is to support and promote the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). The EPC develops payment schemes and frameworks which help to realise the integrated euro payments market. In particular, the EPC defines common positions for the cooperative space of payment services.
The EPC consists of 73 members representing banks, banking communities and payment institutions. More than 360 professionals from 32 countries are directly engaged in the EPC's work programme, representing organisations of all sizes and sectors of the European banking industry. The European Central Bank (ECB) acts as an observer in all EPC working and support groups and in the EPC Plenary (the Plenary is the decision-making body of the EPC, see chart below). The EPC is a not-for-profit organisation which makes all of its deliverables, including the SEPA Scheme Rulebooks and adjacent documentation, available to download free of charge on the EPC Website. The EPC does not supply technology, goods or services.
The role of the EPC
Following the introduction of the euro notes and coins in 2002; European Union (EU) governments, the European Commission and the ECB called on the banking industry to develop harmonised schemes for electronic euro payments. The EPC is responsible, among other things, for the development and maintenance of SEPA payment schemes as defined in the SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) and SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) Rulebooks. The rulebooks contain sets of rules and standards for the execution of SEPA payment transactions that have to be followed by adhering payment service providers (PSPs). These rulebooks can be regarded as instruction manuals which provide a common understanding on how to move funds from account A to account B within SEPA. The schemes are based on technical standards defined by standards bodies such as the International Organization for Standardization. The SEPA payment schemes developed by the EPC have open access criteria in line with Article 28 of the EU Payment Services Directive (Directive 2007/64/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2007 on payment services in the internal market).
To learn more about SCT and SDD, refer to the following dedicated pages on the EPC Website:
- What is a Payment Scheme?
- SCT / SDD Rulebook Release Management and Scheme Development.
- SEPA Credit Transfer.
- SEPA Direct Debit.
The particular payment products and services - based on a particular payment scheme - offered to the customer are developed by individual PSPs operating in a competitive environment. The development of payment products based on the SEPA payment schemes including all product-related features is outside the scope of the EPC.
In February 2012, the European legislator adopted the 'Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro and amending Regulation (EC) No 924/2009' - the SEPA Regulation - which defines 1 February 2014 as the deadline in the euro area for compliance with the core provisions of this Regulation. In non euro countries, the deadline will be 31 October 2016. Effectively, this means that as of these dates, existing national euro credit transfer and direct debit schemes will be replaced by SCT and SDD. In future, the SCT and SDD Schemes will have to comply with the technical requirements detailed in the SEPA Regulation. The SEPA Regulation empowers the European Commission to amend the technical requirements set out in the Annex to the Regulation through delegated acts. To learn more about the SEPA Regulation, refer to the following dedicated page on the EPC Website: SEPA Legal and Regulatory Framework.
Dialogue with stakeholders
The EPC invites all stakeholders to take advantage of the numerous communication and consultation platforms (see link 'EPC Consultations' below) offered by the EPC. The EPC Website, the EPC Newsletter and EPC social media platforms (EPC Blog, EPC on LinkedIn, EPC on Twitter) make available comprehensive, regular and timely information on all EPC activities and are designed to encourage stakeholders to directly engage with the EPC.
The EPC is not responsible for the overall management of the SEPA process
The SEPA payment schemes and frameworks, delivered by the EPC at the request of the European authorities and in close dialogue with the customer community, are key elements for making SEPA a reality. The EPC however, is not responsible for the overall management of the SEPA process. To get an overview of the main actors involved in the SEPA process at a European level and to learn about their specific responsibilities, refer to the EPC publication 'Shortcut to Who Does What in SEPA' (see link below) and to this dedicated page on the EPC Website: About SEPA / The Political Initiators.
EPC governance structure