About SEPA

SEPA at a Glance: the Infographic

  

This infographic provides a timeline highlighting key milestones of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) roll-out and an overview of the actors involved in the SEPA process at the European level and their interaction.

SEPA is a European Union (EU) integration initiative pursued by the EU institutions. These are the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of the EU representing EU governments and the European Central Bank. With the introduction of the euro currency in 1999, the political drivers have focused on the integration of the euro payments market. SEPA compliance requirements that must be met by payment service users and providers are determined by the EU institutions in accordance with their specific competences.

When the EU institutions first launched the SEPA process, they expected the banking industry to contribute the resources required to develop European instruments for electronic euro payments. In response to these expectations, the European banking sector created the European Payments Council (EPC) in 2002. In close dialogue with the stakeholder community, the EPC developed, among other things, the SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit Schemes. It is important to note that the EPC is not part of the EU institutional framework. The EPC has, therefore, no role in the adoption of any EU laws or other regulatory initiatives establishing SEPA compliance requirements.

Political Drivers

EUROPEAN COMMISSION

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The European Commission has the right of initiative to propose laws for adoption by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. The Commission is empowered to determine the requirements applicable to SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit set out in the Annex to Regulation (EU) No 260/2012. (See ‘February 2012’ on timeline.)

COUNCIL OF THE
EUROPEAN UNION

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The Council of the European Union (EU) is the EU institution where the EU Member States’ government representatives sit, i.e. the ministers of each EU Member State with responsibility for a given policy area. It meets in various configurations, each dealing with a number of fixed policy areas. See ‘Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN)’.
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The ECOFIN is composed of the finance ministers of the EU Member States. The ECOFIN considers EU legislation proposed by the European Commission related to SEPA. The ECOFIN has frequently stressed that “the full benefits of SEPA can only be obtained through the full migration of existing national euro payments transactions”.

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

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The European Parliament is the only directly-elected body of the EU. It called on the European Commission in March 2009 and again in March 2010 “to set a clear, appropriate and binding end-date (...) for migrating to SEPA instruments, after which all payments in euro must be made using the SEPA standards”.
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The European Parliament organises its work through a system of specialised committees. EU legislation proposed by the European Commission related to SEPA is considered by the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) prior to the European Parliament taking a vote on a proposal.

EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK

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As a catalyst for the integration of the euro payments market and in line with its mandate to promote the smooth operation of payment systems, the European Central Bank (ECB) has closely monitored and steered the SEPA process since its inception. The ECB exercises the oversight of the SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit Schemes. (See ‘October 2010’ in timeline.)

EUROPEAN BANKING AUTHORITY

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The European Banking Authority (EBA) is an independent EU authority which works to ensure effective and consistent prudential regulation and supervision across the European banking sector. In July 2013, the European Commission introduced its proposal for a revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2). To learn more about guidelines and technical standards to be issued by the EBA pursuant to a mandate provided by the proposed PSD2 (Articles 86, 87), click here. (See also ‘October 2014’ and ‘August 2015’ on timeline.)
500
87.5
plus million citizens
billion electronic payment
transactions annually

PICK A YEAR TO LEARN ABOUT SEPA MILESTONES

CLICK ALONG THE TIMELINE TO LEARN ABOUT SEPA MILESTONES

1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
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2007
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2009
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2011
2012
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2015
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2020

January 1999:

Introduction of the euro in 11 EU countries.

All European Union (EU) Member States form part of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), which can be described as an advanced stage of economic integration based on a single market. It involves close coordination of economic and fiscal policies and, for those countries fulfilling certain conditions, a single monetary policy and a single currency – the euro. The goal of achieving the EMU including a single currency – the euro – was enshrined in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty (Treaty on European Union), which sets out the ground rules for its introduction. When the euro was launched on 1 January 1999, it became the new official currency of 11 EU Member States: Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Finland. (Source: European Commission)

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September 1999:

European Central Bank states: “Indeed, the single currency environment argues strongly in favour of a single payment area.”

The European Central Bank (ECB) commented in a press release: “Despite the introduction of the euro, however, there is still a clear gap between the service levels of domestic and cross-border retail payment systems (...). Indeed, the single currency environment argues strongly in favour of a single payment area.”

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September 1999:

European Central Bank publishes the report ‘Improving cross-border retail payment services – the Eurosystem’s view’.

In this report, the European Central Bank (ECB) stated: “Citizens and businesses alike can only benefit fully from the principles of the free movement of goods, services, capital and people if they are able to transfer money as rapidly, reliably and cheaply from one part of the European Union to another as is now the case within each Member State. The introduction of the euro should provide an important contribution to the completion of the Single Market. (...) The Eurosystem intends to become a catalyst for change, initiating regular discussions with the banking and payment service industry in order to facilitate the achievement of euro area agreements which will improve the environment for retail cross-border payments, in particular in the field of standardisation.” (The Eurosystem comprises the ECB and the national central banks of those countries that have adopted the euro.)

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March 2000:

EU governments set out their SEPA vision in the Lisbon Agenda.

The SEPA vision was set out by European Union (EU) governments in the Lisbon Agenda, March 2000, which aims to make the EU more dynamic and competitive. (The Lisbon Agenda was succeeded by the ‘Europe 2020 Strategy’ launched in March 2010.)

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September 2000:

European Central Bank publishes the report ‘Improving cross-border retail payment services – progress report’.

In this report, the European Central Bank (ECB) stated: “In September 1999 the Eurosystem published a report entitled ‘Improving cross-border retail payment services – the Eurosystem’s view’ (the ‘1999 Report’). The 1999 Report recognised that the service level for cross-border credit transfers within the euro area is far removed from the service level for domestic credit transfers, although a single currency environment would require a single payment area (…). To launch the discussion and give a clear signal to the banking and payment systems industry, the Eurosystem defined seven objectives for the industry to fulfil by 1 January 2002.” (The Eurosystem comprises the ECB and the national central banks of those countries that have adopted the euro.)

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November 2000:

European Commission states: “The Commission’s political objective is exactly that: a modern Single Payment Area for the entire EU where there is no frontier effect for cross-border payments.”

Commissioner Frits Bolkestein, then in charge of the Internal Market and Taxation, stated: “The [European] Commission’s political objective is exactly that: a modern Single Payment Area for the entire EU where there is no frontier effect for cross-border payments. (…) Therefore the Commission promotes all efforts in this direction: once the payments industry has finalised its proposals, the Commission is prepared to inform widely the European citizen about the availability of a low-price Straight-Through Processing (STP) cross-border retail payment based on [International Bank Account Number] IBAN and [Business Identifier Code] BIC.”

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January 2001:

Greece adopts the euro.

With Greece, the euro area, in 2001, comprised 12 European Union Member States.

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September 2001:

European Central Bank again calls on the banking industry to support SEPA.

Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank (ECB) stated: “Like the [European] Commission and the [European] Parliament, the ECB is fully committed to the objective of creating a single payment area for the euro. We therefore share the view that pressure should be kept on the banking industry to obtain the necessary improvements.”

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December 2001:

EU co-legislators, i.e. the European Parliament and the Council of the EU representing EU governments, adopt Regulation (EC) No 2560/2001 on cross-border payments in euro.

The European lawmakers laid the foundations of the SEPA policy through ‘Regulation (EC) No 2560/2001 of 19 December 2001 on cross-border payments in euro’. The Regulation stated that payment service providers are not permitted to impose different charges for domestic and cross-border payments or automated teller machine (ATM) withdrawals within the European Union. This Regulation has generally been understood as a turning point in the financial integration policy of the European lawmakers beyond its formal stipulations, as the Regulation was clearly intended to shock the banking sector into stepping up its efforts to help realise the political SEPA vision. (Regulation (EC) No 2560/2001 was superseded by Regulation (EC) No 924/2009 adopted in 2009).

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January 2002:

Introduction of euro coins and bank notes in 12 EU countries.

Since 1 January 2002 the euro has been circulating in physical form, as banknotes and coins in 12 European Union countries: Belgium, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Finland. (Source: European Commission)

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May 2002:

European Commission publishes the working document ‘A Possible Legal Framework for the Single Payment Area in the Internal Market’. (This initiative resulted in the adoption of the Payment Services Directive by the EU co-legislators in 2007.)

The European Commission recognised that integration of the euro payments market would only be possible within a common legal environment that would remove the local anomalies and differences. In May 2002 the Commission published the working document ‘A Possible Legal Framework for the Single Payment Area in the Internal Market’ for consultation. This working document led to the Commission proposal for a ‘Directive for a New Legal Framework for Payments in the Internal Market’, published in December 2005. This Directive, eventually entitled ‘Directive 2007/64/EC on payment services in the internal market’ was adopted by the European Union (EU) co-legislators, i.e. the European Parliament and the Council of the EU representing EU governments, in November 2007. This legislative act is generally referred to as the Payment Services Directive (PSD). The PSD was implemented in most EU Member States by November 2009.

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June 2002:

The European banking industry creates the European Payments Council (EPC). At the request of the EU authorities the EPC commits to develop, in close dialogue with all stakeholders, the harmonised electronic euro payment schemes which help to realise the political SEPA vision.

When the European Union (EU) governments and EU institutions first launched the SEPA process in the late 1990s, the EU authorities expected the banking industry to contribute the resources required to develop European instruments for electronic euro payments. In response to these expectations repeatedly articulated by the EU authorities, the European banking sector created the European Payments Council (EPC) in 2002. In close dialogue with the stakeholder community, the EPC developed, among other things, the SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) and SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) Schemes. The EPC is an international not-for-profit association which makes all of its deliverables available to download free of charge on the EPC Website. The EPC is not part of the EU institutional framework. The EPC is one stakeholder group among many impacted by the policy-maker-driven SEPA programme. The EPC is not responsible for the overall management of the SEPA process.

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June 2003:

European Central Bank publishes the report ‘Towards a Single Euro Payments Area – progress report’.

In this report, the European Central Bank (ECB) stated: “Banks have recently agreed on a governance structure, with the European Payments Council (EPC) as their central decision-making body [in relation to payments] and several working groups providing the EPC with input on strategic issues. (...) The Eurosystem very much welcomes the decisions taken and general commitments made by the EPC. The entire banking community must now properly implement these decisions. (...) The Eurosystem will closely monitor the implementation of the EPC’s decisions.” (The Eurosystem comprises the ECB and the national central banks of those countries that have adopted the euro.) The ECB published seven SEPA progress reports altogether between 2003 and 2010. These, including the 2003 progress report cited here, can be found following the ‘read more’ button.

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March 2004:

European Payments Council agrees the ‘Roadmap 2004 – 2010’.

With this roadmap, the European Payments Council (EPC), representing the banking industry in relation to payments, confirmed its commitment to support the integration of the euro payments market as envisaged by the political drivers of the SEPA initiative. The roadmap set out the deliverables to be contributed by the EPC in the period 2004 through 2010 which help to realise SEPA.

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September 2005:

European Payments Council approves the SEPA Cards Framework and releases draft versions of the SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit Rulebooks for consultation.

In a press release, the European Payments Council (EPC) commented: “The SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) Scheme will establish a set of interbank rules, practices and standards to be observed by credit institutions. It will allow the banking industry in SEPA to offer a core credit transfer product to customers in euro. As a result, customers and banks will be able to make credit transfers in euro throughout SEPA as easily and efficiently as they do today in their local market. Similarly, the SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) Scheme will provide a set of interbank rules, practices and standards which will allow the banking industry in SEPA to offer a pan-European direct debit product in euro to customers.” The SEPA Cards Framework (SCF) outlines high level principles and rules that when implemented by the card industry, will deliver a consistent user experience to both cardholders and merchants when making or accepting euro payments or cash withdrawals.

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December 2005:

European Commission publishes its proposal for a ‘Directive for a New Legal Framework for Payments in the Internal Market’.

The European Commission introduced its proposal for a ‘Directive for a New Legal Framework for Payments in the Internal Market’. This Directive, eventually entitled ‘Directive 2007/64/EC on payment services in the internal market’ was adopted by the European Union (EU) co-legislators, i.e. the European Parliament and the Council of the EU representing EU governments, in November 2007. This legislative act is generally referred to as the Payment Services Directive (PSD). For more information, see also ‘November 2007’ and ‘November 2009’ in this timeline.

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February 2006:

European Commission publishes its ‘Consultative paper on SEPA incentives’.

In this paper, the European Commission stated: “The integration of the non-cash payments systems in Europe is the logical follow-up to the introduction of the euro. It is expected that the realisation of the Single Euro Payment Area will result in tremendous gains and potential savings for society and bring benefits to all stakeholders. (...) However, whilst the preference is for market-led solutions, regulatory action is not ruled out where there is a risk of market failure that could put the economy wide benefits of the project at risk.” (To view the response of the European Payments Council (EPC), representing the European banking industry in relation to payments, to the consultative paper, click here.)

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May 2006:

European Central Bank and European Commission reiterate in a joint statement: “The introduction of the euro as the single currency of the euro area will only be completed when SEPA has become a reality.”

In May 2006, the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) commented in a joint statement: “The introduction of the euro as the single currency of the euro area will only be completed when SEPA has become a reality, i.e. when consumers, businesses and governments are able to make cashless payments throughout the euro area from a single payment account anywhere in the euro area using a single set of payment instruments as easily, efficiently and safely as they can make payments today in the domestic context.”

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October 2006:

Council of the EU representing EU governments reiterates its support for SEPA aimed at achieving “an integrated market for payment services in euro which is subject to effective competition and where there is no distinction between cross-border and national payments in euro within the EU”.

With regard to SEPA, the ECOFIN (finance ministers) considered “that the highest priority must be given to meeting users’ needs by the payment services developed under the SEPA, which requires continual involvement at national level of all interested parties.” The ECOFIN expressed “appreciation of the substantial work undertaken by industry to achieve this aim” and encouraged industry “to make progress in the areas where work remains to be completed”. It noted “that the completion of SEPA calls for the removal of all technical, legal and commercial barriers between the current national payment markets”.

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January 2007:

Slovenia adopts the euro.

With Slovenia, the euro area, in 2007, comprised 13 European Union Member States.

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November 2007:

EU co-legislators, i.e. the European Parliament and the Council of the EU representing EU governments, adopt the Payment Services Directive (PSD).

The Directive 2007/64/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of the European Union (EU) of 13 November 2007 on payment services in the internal market is generally referred to as the Payment Services Directive (PSD). The PSD aims at establishing a modern and comprehensive set of rules applicable to all electronic payment services – not just SEPA services – in the EU. The PSD is not a ‘SEPA Directive’, but rather, the very broad and ambitious scope of the PSD makes it the most significant and comprehensive piece of EU financial services legislation ever seen in relation to the payments market. The PSD is of particular relevance with respect to SEPA Direct Debit services due to the fact that it defines common rules for the authorisation and the refund of direct debits. The PSD was implemented in most EU Member States by 1 November 2009.

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January 2008:

Cyprus and Malta adopt the euro.

With Cyprus and Malta, the euro area, in 2008, comprised 15 European Union Member States.

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January 2008:

European Payments Council launches SEPA Credit Transfer Scheme.

The European Payments Council (EPC), representing the European banking industry in relation to payments, launched the SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) Scheme in January 2008. On this occasion, Charlie McCreevy, former EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services noted: “Today is a historic day for European payments (...). The SEPA project has moved from preparation to practice, from theory to reality. We should congratulate the EPC on this tremendous achievement.” The SCT Scheme enables payment service providers (PSPs) to offer a core and basic credit transfer service throughout SEPA for either single or bulk payments. The scheme’s standards facilitate payment initiation, processing and reconciliation, based on straight-through-processing (STP). The scope is limited to payments made in euro, within the SEPA Scheme countries. The PSPs executing the credit transfer must formally participate in the SCT Scheme.

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October 2008:

European Commission establishes EU Forum of National SEPA Coordination Committees.

SEPA migration is coordinated at national level. In October 2008, the European Commission established the European Union (EU) Forum of National SEPA Coordination Committees. The EU Forum provides an opportunity for national SEPA Coordination Committees to familiarise themselves with the activities of their European counterparts, debate issues of common interest with the EU institutions and exchange information and good practices about SEPA migration. The forum is chaired by the European Commission.

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January 2009:

Slovakia adopts the euro.

With Slovakia, the euro area, in 2009, comprised 16 European Union Member States.

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March 2009:

European Parliament calls on European Commission “to set a clear, appropriate and binding end-date (...) for migrating to SEPA instruments, after which all payments in euro must be made using the SEPA standards”.

The European Parliament reiterated: “SEPA is (...) a major public policy initiative reinforcing the Economic and Monetary Union and the Lisbon Agenda. (...) Whereas no legally binding end-date for migration to SEPA instruments has been set, and whereas all parties involved now agree that setting such an end-date is imperative for SEPA to be successful. (...) [The European Parliament] calls on the [European] Commission to set a clear, appropriate and binding end-date (...) for migrating to SEPA instruments, after which all payments in euro must be made using the SEPA standards.” (The European Parliament reiterated its call to establish binding deadlines for migration to SEPA again in March 2010.)

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September 2009:

EU co-legislators, i.e. the European Parliament and the Council of the EU representing EU governments, adopt Regulation (EC) No 924/2009 on cross-border payments in the Community.

Regulation (EC) No 924/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of the European Union (EU) representing EU governments of 16 September 2009 on cross-border payments in the community, and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2560/2001, introduced additional provisions which – in the eyes of the regulator – further promoted EU financial integration in general and SEPA implementation in particular. Article 8 of this legislative act stipulates that all branches of payment service providers in the euro area reachable for direct debits at national level must be reachable for cross-border direct debits, e.g. the SEPA Direct Debit Core Scheme, from 1 November 2010.

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September 2009:

European Commission publishes communication ‘Completing SEPA: a roadmap for 2009-2012’.

In close cooperation with the European Central Bank, the European Commission issued the communication: ‘Completing SEPA: a roadmap for 2009 – 2012’. This roadmap identified the actions to be completed by all stakeholders (European and national authorities, industry and end-users) in the following areas: (1) fostering migration; (2) increasing awareness and promoting SEPA products; (3) designing a sound legal environment and ensuring compliance; (4) promoting innovation; (5) achieving standardisation and interoperability; and (6) clarifying and improving SEPA project governance.

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September 2009:

European Commission public consultation on SEPA migration shows: a majority of respondents call “for a regulation at European level so as to provide a clear signal to market participants that SEPA migration was now irreversible”.

In September 2009, the European Commission services published the results of a public consultation on whether and how deadlines should be set for the migration of existing national credit transfers and direct debits to the new harmonised SEPA payment schemes. In response to this consultation carried out by the Commission, a majority of respondents echoed requests by the European Central Bank, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU representing EU governments “for a regulation at European level [establishing mandatory SEPA migration deadlines] so as to provide a clear signal to market participants that SEPA migration was now irreversible”.

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October 2009:

European Central Bank reiterates: “Setting a realistic but ambitious end-date for migration to SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit is a necessary step in order to reap the benefits of SEPA.”

Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell, Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank (ECB), pointed out: “The Eurosystem will continue its efforts to foster a general understanding among stakeholders that setting a realistic but ambitious end-date for migration to SCT and SDD is a necessary step in order to reap the benefits of SEPA. Ten years after the introduction of the euro as the single currency, it is high time to complete the introduction of the euro in the field of single payment instruments.” (The Eurosystem comprises the ECB and the national central banks of those countries that have adopted the euro.)

> Read more

November 2009:

The Payment Services Directive is implemented in most EU Member States.

The Directive 2007/64/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of the European Union (EU) of 13 November 2007 on payment services in the internal market is generally referred to as the Payment Services Directive (PSD). The PSD aims at establishing a modern and comprehensive set of rules applicable to all electronic payment services – not just SEPA services – in the EU. The PSD is not a ‘SEPA Directive’, but rather, the very broad and ambitious scope of the PSD makes it the most significant and comprehensive piece of EU financial services legislation ever seen in relation to the payments market. The PSD is of particular relevance with respect to SEPA Direct Debit services due to the fact that it defines common rules for the authorisation and the refund of direct debits.

> Read more

November 2009:

European Payments Council launches SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) Core and SDD Business to Business Schemes.

The European Payments Council (EPC), representing the European banking industry in relation to payments, launched the SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) Core and the SDD Business to Business (B2B) Schemes. Charlie McCreevy, former EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services noted: “I am pleased that banks and the EPC have maintained their commitment to the project and are pushing ahead with the delivery of SEPA. (...) The EPC SDD Scheme is (...) truly innovative.” Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell, then Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, concluded: “Celebrating the SDD launch today is indeed very reassuring for the whole SEPA process. (...) The SEPA project has already delivered its first results. These will also form the basis for innovative new developments in payments. (...) More than 2,500 banks have already signed up for the SDD service, which is an outstanding achievement. The launch of the SDD marks a further step forward in the process of European integration towards a single payments area.”

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December 2009:

Council of the EU representing EU governments reiterates: “The full benefits of SEPA can only be obtained through the full migration of existing national euro payments transactions.”

With its conclusions on SEPA issued in December 2009, the ECOFIN (finance ministers) emphasised that the full benefits of SEPA “can only be obtained through the full migration of existing national euro payments transactions” to harmonised SEPA payment instruments. The ECOFIN therefore considered that establishing definitive end-dates for migration would “provide the clarity and the incentive needed by the market, ensuring that the substantial benefits of SEPA are rapidly achieved and that the high costs of running both legacy and SEPA products in parallel can be eliminated”. The ECOFIN invited the European Commission, in collaboration with the European Central Bank and in close cooperation with all actors concerned, “to carry out a thorough assessment of whether legislation is needed to set binding end-dates for SDD [SEPA Direct Debit] and SCT [SEPA Credit Transfer] and to come up with a legislative proposal should this assessment confirm the need for binding end dates”.

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May 2010:

European Commission publishes its communication ‘A Digital Agenda for Europe’.

The impact of SEPA transcends monetary policy and payment services. The European Commission expects the legal and technical SEPA harmonisation exercise to streamline business processes by replacing paper-based procedures with standardised electronic solutions such as e-invoicing, for example. These objectives are also set out in the European Commission Communication ‘A Digital Agenda for Europe’ published in May 2010. The ‘Digital Agenda for Europe’ defines the key enabling role that the use of information and communication technologies will have to play if Europe wants to succeed in its ambitions for 2020. It is one of seven flagship initiatives of the European Commission’s ‘Europe 2020 Strategy’. Section 2.1.2 of the ‘Digital Agenda for Europe’ specifically addresses the SEPA initiative.

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June 2010:

European Commission and the European Central Bank establish the SEPA Council.

The European Commission together with the European Central Bank (ECB) established the SEPA Council, which brought together representatives from both the demand and supply sides of the payments market, including the European Payments Council (EPC). The objective of the SEPA Council was to promote the realisation of an integrated euro retail payments market by fostering consensus between all major stakeholders on the next steps towards the full realisation of SEPA. At its inaugural meeting in June 2010, the SEPA Council endorsed a formal declaration stressing their “strong support for the establishment of end-date(s) for migration to SEPA Credit Transfers and SEPA Direct Debits by means of legislation at EU level”. (On 19 December 2013 the ECB announced the launch of the Euro Retail Payments Board (ERPB). This new entity replaces the SEPA Council.)

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October 2010:

Eurosystem publishes oversight frameworks for credit transfer and direct debit schemes.

In October 2010, the Eurosystem, which comprises the European Central Bank (ECB) and the national central banks of the euro area, published the final versions of the ‘Oversight Framework for Credit Transfer Schemes’ and the ‘Oversight Framework for Direct Debit Schemes.’ The ECB stated: “The new frameworks will help strengthen the soundness and efficiency of credit transfers and direct debits schemes by highlighting risks that could have an overall impact on the confidence of users of the instrument. In this way, they will ultimately contribute to maintaining confidence in the currency and promoting an efficient economy. (…) The Eurosystem will apply these frameworks to the SEPA credit transfer scheme and the SEPA direct debit scheme.”

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November 2010:

As mandated with Regulation (EC) 924/2009 all branches of payment service providers in the euro area reachable for direct debits at national level must be reachable for cross-border direct debits, e.g. the SEPA Direct Debit Core Scheme.

The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union (EU) representing EU governments adopted ‘Regulation (EC) No 924/2009 on cross-border payments in the community and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2560/2001’ in September 2009. Article 8 of this legislative act stipulates that all branches of payment service providers in the euro area reachable for direct debits at national level must be reachable for cross-border direct debits, e.g. the SEPA Direct Debit Core Scheme, from 1 November 2010.

> Read more

December 2010:

European Commission introduces proposal for EU Regulation which defines mandatory deadlines for migration to SEPA.

On 16 December 2010, the European Commission, which has the right of initiative to propose laws for adoption by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union (EU) representing EU governments, published the proposal for an EU Regulation to effectively mandate deadlines for migration to SEPA. (The European Parliament and the Council of the EU reached agreement on the 1 February 2014 deadline for migration to SEPA applicable in the euro area in December 2011. The ‘Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro’ entered into force in March 2012. See ‘February 2012’ on this timeline for details.)

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January 2011:

Estonia adopts the euro.

With Estonia, the euro area comprised 17 European Union Member States.

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December 2011:

European Commission, European Parliament and Council of the EU representing EU governments agree on 1 February 2014 as the formal deadline applicable in the euro area to comply with forthcoming EU Regulation establishing mandatory deadlines for migration to SEPA.

On 20 December 2011, negotiators on behalf of the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union (EU) representing EU governments and the European Commission agreed that the forthcoming ‘Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro’ (the SEPA Regulation) would define 1 February 2014 as the deadline in the euro area for compliance with this Regulation. The SEPA Regulation, which effectively establishes mandatory deadlines for migration to SEPA, was formally adopted by the EU co-legislators, i.e. the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, in February 2012 and entered into force in March 2012.

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January 2012:

European Commission publishes its Green Paper ‘Towards an Integrated European Market for Card, Internet and Mobile Payments’.

In January 2012, the European Commission published its Green Paper ‘Towards an integrated European market for card, internet and mobile payments’ for a three month consultation. The aim of the Green Paper, according to the Commission, was to identify the obstacles that could potentially prevent integration in this area. The Commission stated that the contributions to the consultation would determine the need for European Union action on the various issues raised in the Green Paper and the form this action would take.

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February 2012:

EU co-legislators, i.e. the European Parliament and the Council of the EU representing EU governments, adopt Regulation (EU) No 260/2012. This legislative act effectively mandates migration to SEPA.

In February 2012, the European Union (EU) co-legislators, i.e. the European Parliament and the Council of the EU representing EU governments, adopted the ‘Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro’, also known as the SEPA Regulation. Article 6(1) and (2) of the SEPA Regulation mandates that credit transfers and direct debits (in the euro area) shall be carried out in accordance with the relevant requirements set out in Article 5 and in the Annex to the Regulation by 1 February 2014, subject to certain limited exemptions mentioned in the Regulation. The deadline in non-euro countries will be 31 October 2016. Effectively, this means that as of these dates, existing national euro credit transfer and direct debit schemes are replaced by SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) and SEPA Direct Debit (SDD). This legislative act entered into force on 31 March 2012.

The SCT and SDD Schemes, developed by the European Payments Council (EPC) in close dialogue with all stakeholders, have to comply with the technical requirements detailed in Article 5 and in the Annex to the SEPA Regulation. Article 13 of the SEPA Regulation empowers the European Commission to amend the technical requirements set out in the Annex to the Regulation through delegated acts (see also Article 14). Article 10 (“Competent authorities”) of the SEPA Regulation details how this legislative act is to be enforced. It clarifies that EU Member States must designate the competent authorities at national level responsible for ensuring compliance with this Regulation.

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April 2012:

European Payments Council responds to the European Commission’s Green Paper ‘Towards an Integrated European Market for Card, Internet and Mobile Payments’.

In January 2012, the European Commission published its Green Paper ‘Towards an integrated European market for card, internet and mobile payments’ for a three month consultation. In April 2012, the European Payments Council (EPC), representing the European banking industry in relation to payments, published its response. The EPC response outlined key policy considerations which, in its view, should be observed when determining the need for European Union (EU) action impacting the European market for card, internet and mobile payments. The EPC did not support a number of related assumptions and suggestions put forth in the Green Paper, and believed that many of those suggestions would not help achieve the stated objectives and may even undermine their realisation.

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March 2013:

European Central Bank publishes first SEPA migration report.

European Union (EU) law effectively mandates migration to SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) and SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) in the euro area by 1 February 2014 (see ‘February 2012’ on this timeline). On 21 March 2013 the European Central Bank (ECB) published its first report on the migration towards SEPA. The report showed that “most corporations have already completed the planning phase and know what SEPA will mean for them in practical terms. However, when it comes to the actual implementation, a number of companies have adopted very late internal deadlines, even as far as to the end of 2013. (…) More worryingly, small and medium Enterprises’ (SMEs) and local public administrations’ awareness of SEPA is still fragmented and the level of preparedness is rather poor.” The Eurosystem, which comprises the ECB and the national central banks of countries which have adopted the euro, strongly advocated “that all stakeholders, including ‘big billers’, public administrations and SMEs, migrate at the earliest stage possible, preferably by the third quarter of 2013 at the latest, in order to avoid risks which could impact the wider supply chain and would put the SEPA migration at risk.”

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May 2013:

Council of the EU representing EU governments confirms: Provisions of Regulation (EU) 260/2012 “have to be fully respected by all market participants in euro area member states”.

With its SEPA conclusions adopted on 14 May 2013, the ECOFIN (finance ministers), welcomed “the successful entering into force” of Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro (the SEPA Regulation). This legislative act effectively mandates migration from national credit transfer and direct debit schemes to SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) and SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) in the euro area by 1 February 2014. The ECOFIN confirmed that “this is a significant step towards a truly integrated market for retail payments in euro”. It underlined that the provisions of the SEPA Regulation “have to be fully respected by all market participants in euro area Member States,” and emphasised that “competent authorities should cooperate intensively, on a national and international level, to ensure effective and harmonised compliance with the Regulation.”

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July 2013:

European Commission publishes ‘payments legislative package’ which includes proposals for a revised Payment Services Directive and a new Regulation on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions.

With the publication of its Green Paper ‘Towards an integrated European market for card, internet and mobile payments’ (the Green Paper) (see ‘January 2012’ on this timeline), the European Commission announced that by summer 2012 it would determine the need for European Union (EU) action to address ‘gaps’ it perceived with regard to competition, choice and innovation in this area. The EU Payment Services Directive (PSD) was implemented in most EU Member States by 1 November 2009. Article 87 of the PSD requires the Commission to present a report on the implementation and impact of the PSD together with proposals for its revision by 1 November 2012. On 24 July 2013 the Commission published a ‘payments legislative package’ which included the Commission proposals for a revised PSD (PSD2) and a new Regulation on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions for review and adoption by the EU co-legislators. These are the European Parliament and the Council of the EU representing EU governments.

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October 2013:

European Central Bank publishes second SEPA migration report.

On 24 October 2013 the European Central Bank (ECB) published its second SEPA migration report, analysing the state of play in euro area countries in creating a single market for credit transfers and direct debits in euro across Europe. The report showed that migration to SEPA Credit Transfer was generally progressing swiftly. However, most stakeholders would only be migrating to SEPA Direct Debit in the last few months before the 1 February 2014 deadline established with Regulation (EU) No 260/2012. While the overall preparedness of payment service providers seemed satisfactory, many of their customers, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, still faced significant challenges in terms of being sufficiently prepared in time for the changeover.

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October 2013:

Payment service users confirm: SEPA migration is manageable, feasible and beneficial.

Representatives of early adopters on the demand side confirmed that timely migration to the new SEPA payment schemes and technical standards is manageable and feasible. They also clarified that migration to SEPA leads to significant benefits. These include: more streamlined internal processes, lower IT costs, reduced costs based on bank charges, a consolidated number of bank accounts and cash management systems, and more efficiency and integration of any organisation’s payment business.

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December 2013:

European Central Bank announces the creation of the Euro Retail Payments Board (ERPB).

On 19 December 2013, the European Central Bank (ECB) announced the creation of the Euro Retail Payments Board (ERPB). This new entity, which replaces the SEPA Council (see ‘June 2010’ on this timeline), would “help foster the development of an integrated, innovative and competitive market for retail payments in euro in the European Union”. The ECB pointed out that the “ERPB’s composition and mandate will be broader than those of its predecessor. Seven representatives from the demand side (e.g. consumers, retailers and corporations) and seven from the supply side (banks and payment and e-money institutions) will sit on the Board. They will be joined by five representatives from the euro area national central banks and one representative from the non-euro area EU national central banks (all on a rotating basis). The ERPB is to be chaired by the ECB. The European Commission is invited to join as an observer.” (The European Payments Council, representing the European banking industry in relation to payments, is one member of the ERPB.)

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January 2014:

Latvia adopts the euro.

Latvia joined the euro area on 1 January 2014 with a specific SEPA migration timeline according to Regulation (EU) No 260/2012, namely 1 January 2015. However, Latvia completed migration to SEPA Credit Transfer well in advance by 1 January 2014. With Latvia, the euro area, in 2014, comprised 18 EU Member States.

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January 2014:

European Commission introduces proposal for a new EU Regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 to allow for an extra six month transition period in the euro area after 1 February 2014.

Article 6(1) and (2) of the ‘Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro’ mandates that credit transfers and direct debits (in the euro area) shall be carried out in accordance with the relevant requirements set out in Article 5 and in the Annex to the Regulation by 1 February 2014, subject to certain limited exemptions mentioned in the Regulation. Effectively, this means that as of this date existing national euro credit transfer and direct debit schemes will be replaced by SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit (see ‘February 2012’ on this timeline). To avoid difficulties for non-compliant market participants, on 9 January 2014, the European Commission introduced its proposal for a new European Union (EU) Regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 to “give an extra transition period of six months during which payments which differ from the SEPA format can still be accepted” after 1 February 2014. The Commission commented that this “proposal does not change the formal deadline for migration of 1 February 2014.” The Commission invited the EU co-legislators, i.e. the European Parliament and the Council of the EU representing EU governments, to “consider this proposal as a case of absolute urgency”.

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February 2014:

According to data made available by the European Central Bank, the vast majority of stakeholders in the euro area achieved SEPA compliance by 1 February 2014.

The vast majority of stakeholders, i.e. corporates, small and medium-sized enterprises, public administrations and payment service providers in the euro area, achieved SEPA compliance by 1 February 2014. (For detailed information, click here and refer to figure 1 in this EPC Newsletter article published in January 2014.)

According to the quantitative SEPA indicators published by the European Central Bank, the share of SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) transactions amounted to 93.9 percent in February 2014 and the share of SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) transactions had reached 80.3 percent. The quantitative SEPA indicators measure the share of SCT and SDD transactions as a percentage of the total volume of credit transfers and direct debits generated by bank customers in the euro area.

Javier Santamaría, Chair of the European Payments Council (EPC), commented: “Meeting this milestone has been a tremendous effort for everybody on the demand and supply sides. In the view of the EPC, congratulations are in order. The industry is proud to have contributed, together with all other stakeholders, to realising this unique integration project launched by the EU institutions and EU governments more than a decade ago.”

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March 2014:

‘Regulation (EU) No 248/2014 amending Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 as regards the migration to Union-wide credit transfers and direct debits’ is published in the Official Journal of the EU.

Article 6(1) and (2) of the ‘Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro’ effectively mandates migration to SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit in the euro area by 1 February 2014. To avoid difficulties for non-compliant market participants, on 9 January 2014, the European Commission introduced its proposal for a new European Union (EU) Regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 to “give an extra transition period of six months during which payments which differ from the SEPA format can still be accepted” after 1 February 2014. In February 2014, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU representing EU governments, respectively, adopted a new ‘Regulation (EU) No 248/2014 amending Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 as regards the migration to Union-wide credit transfers and direct debits’.

This new EU Regulation states, among other things (italics added): “In Article 16 of Regulation (EU) No 260/2012, paragraph 1 is replaced by the following: (...) By way of derogation from Article 6(1) and (2), PSPs [payment service providers] may continue, until 1 August 2014, to process payment transactions in euro in formats that are different from those required for credit transfers and direct debits pursuant to this Regulation. [EU] Member States shall apply the rules on the penalties applicable to infringements of Article 6(1) and (2) (…) from 2 August 2014.” In the view of the European Commission, this procedure “does not change the formal deadline for migration of 1 February 2014.” Consequently, Article 6(1) and (2) of Regulation (EU) No 260/2012, which stipulates the 1 February 2014 compliance date, remains unchanged. Regulation (EU) No 248/2014 entered into force on 21 March 2014. It applies, with retroactive effect, from 31 January 2014.

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April 2014:

European Central Bank publishes the report ‘Card payments in Europe – a renewed focus on SEPA for cards’.

On 29 April 2014, the European Central Bank (ECB) published this new report and stated: “Following the near completion of the migration of the first two payment instruments, credit transfers (CTs) and direct debits (DDs), to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), the Eurosystem is now turning its attention to the harmonisation of the largest electronic retail payment instrument: card payments. A new and comprehensive report entitled ‘Card payments in Europe – a renewed focus on SEPA for cards’, prepared by the ECB, explains the basic concepts, provides aggregate statistics at the European Union (EU) level, and presents the Eurosystem’s views and policies on SEPA for cards. The ultimate aim of SEPA for cards is a harmonised, competitive and innovative European card payments area.” (The Eurosystem comprises the ECB and the national central banks of those countries that have adopted the euro.)

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May 2014:

First meeting of the new Euro Retail Payments Board (ERPB) chaired by the European Central Bank.

On 19 December 2013, the European Central Bank (ECB) announced the creation of the Euro Retail Payments Board (ERPB) which replaces the SEPA Council. The ERPB will “help foster the development of an integrated, innovative and competitive market for retail payments in euro in the European Union [EU]” (see ‘December 2013’ in this timeline). Following its first meeting on 16 May 2014, the ERPB published a statement which sets out its work plan and priorities.

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July 2014:

European Banking Authoritiy (EBA) publishes opinion on virtual currencies.

The EBA opinion on virtual currencies (VC) stated among other things: “Following three months of analysis, the EBA issued a public warning on 13 December 2013, making consumers aware that VC are not regulated and that the risks are unmitigated as a result.” This EBA opinion sets out the result of the assessment whether VCs should or can be regulated. It is addressed to European Union (EU) “legislators as well as national supervisory authorities in the 28 Member States.”

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August 2014:

1 August 2014 marks the end of the additional transition period for migration to SEPA in the euro area.

On 20 March 2014 ‘Regulation (EU) No 248/2014 amending Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 as regards the migration to Union-wide credit transfers and direct debits’ was published in the Official Journal of the European Union (EU). This legislative act formalised the proposal introduced by the European Commission on 9 January 2014 to give an extra transition period of six months until 1 August 2014 during which payments which differ from the SEPA format could still be accepted in the euro area (see above).

Michel Barnier, Vice-President of the European Commission, commented: “In all euro countries citizens have now available a common and simple way to pay at home and across borders: SEPA credit transfers (SCT) and SEPA direct debit (SDD). Faster and safer transfers between bank accounts in the euro area will benefit the European economies at large. Completing the migration of payments to SEPA today is a real success.”

A press release of the European Central Bank (ECB) noted: “The successful completion of SEPA further accelerates Europe’s financial integration”, said Yves Mersch, ECB Executive Board member. “It removes barriers to credit transfers and direct debits which will no longer impede businesses or consumers.” The Eurosystem, which consists of the ECB and the national central banks of euro area Member States, has monitored the migration to and implementation of SEPA from its inception, facilitating open dialogue between all parties (banks, corporates, consumers, public authorities, governments and SMEs). This approach has contributed to the successful completion of SEPA for credit transfers and direct debits in the euro area, constituting one of the largest financial integration projects in the world.”

1 August 2014 however, does not mark the end of the migration process. The ‘Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro’ established further deadlines that must be met by market participants in euro area and non-euro area countries by 2016.

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August 2014:

European Central Bank (ECB) identifies four key payment systems that are now under the new ECB Regulation on oversight requirements for systemically important payment systems and publishes the ‘Revised Oversight Framework for Retail Payment Systems’.

On 21 August 2014, the European Central Bank (ECB) published a press release which states: the ECB “has identified four key payment systems that are now under the new ECB Regulation on oversight requirements for systemically important payment systems (SIPS), which entered into force on 12 August 2014. The regulation covers large-value and retail payment systems in the euro area operated by both central banks and private entities, and aims at ensuring efficient management of legal, credit, liquidity, operational, general business, custody, investment and other risks as well as sound governance arrangements, namely with a view towards promoting the smooth operation of safe and efficient payment systems in the euro area. (…) This is the first time that the ECB makes use of its regulatory powers in the field of payment systems oversight.”

For consistency with international practice, and to take account of the increased integration of retail payment systems in SEPA, the Eurosystem has also undertaken a comprehensive review of the oversight standards for euro retail payment systems that are not SIPS initially adopted in June 2003. As the result of this review, on 21 August 2014 the ECB published the ‘Revised Oversight Framework for Retail Payment Systems’. (The Eurosystem comprises the ECB and the national central banks of those countries that have adopted the euro.)

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October 2014:

European Central Bank (ECB) and European Banking Authority (EBA) “step up cooperation to make retail payments safer”.

On 20 October 2014, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Banking Authority (EBA) announced that they “are stepping up their cooperation to increase the security of retail payments. The two institutions have agreed to use as a basis for their cooperation, the technical work developed in the European Forum for the Security of Retail Payments (SecuRe Pay) (…).

SecuRe Pay will work as a common basis for both the Eurosystem (the ECB plus the national central banks of the euro area) standards for the oversight of payment systems and retail payment instruments, and for the EBA’s regulatory and supervisory requirements for payment services across the entire European Union (EU). The ECB and EBA have agreed to coordinate and further enhance their cooperation through SecuRe Pay, in light of the fact that the European System of Central Banks (which includes all EU central banks) is tasked with promoting the smooth operation of payment systems and that the regulation of payments services falls into the EBA’s scope of action, with security-related mandates in the context of the revision to the EU Payment Services Directive (PSD2).

As a first step of this cooperation, the EBA has published today a consultation paper on draft EBA Guidelines on the security of internet payments, which are based on the SecuRe Pay recommendations. This strengthens the legal basis for the implementation of the harmonised oversight and supervisory policies on retail payments across the EEA. In addition, any procedures and decisions taken by central banks in their oversight function for retail payment systems and payment instruments continue to apply.

SecuRe Pay was established in 2011 as a voluntary cooperation between supervisors of payment service providers and overseers of payment systems and payment schemes/instruments within the EU/EEA with the aim to facilitate common knowledge and understanding of issues related to the security of electronic payment services and instruments and, where appropriate, to make recommendations. Since then, SecuRe Pay published a number of recommendations, including on the security of internet payments in January 2013.

EBA and ECB remain equally committed to the objective of the Forum and the recommendations made until now. The revised SecuRe Pay mandate is available on the ECB’s website.”

On 20 October 2014, the EBA published a consultation paper on the implementation of its guidelines on the security of internet payments. These guidelines are the first output of the joint work undertaken by the EBA and the ECB on the security of payment services. The EBA published the finalised guidelines on 19 December 2014 which set the minimum security requirements that payment service providers in the EU will be expected to implement by 1 August 2015 (see ‘August 2015’ on timeline for details).

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May 2015:

The Regulation on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions (IFR) is published in the Official Journal of the EU.

On 19 May 2015, the Regulation (EU) 2015/751 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions was published in the Official Journal of the European Union (IFR).

The key objective of the IFR is to cap interchange fees, which are paid between payment service providers (PSPs) for the acceptance of card based transactions. Usually these fees are paid from the merchant acquirer (the merchant’s PSP) to the card issuer (the cardholder’s PSP), as a percentage of and/or a fixed amount for each transaction made by the cardholder, and form part of the costs that merchant acquirers charge to merchants.

As well as capping interchange fees, the IFR also aims to improve transparency and competition in the card market. The interchange fee caps came into effect on 9 December 2015, whereas the majority of provisions relating to business rules will enter into force on 9 June 2016.

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August 2015:

Deadline to comply with the ‘Guidelines on the security of internet payments’ released by the European Banking Authority (EBA). These guidelines are based on recommendations developed by the European Forum on the Security of Retail Payments (SecuRe Pay).

On 31 January 2013, the European Central Bank (ECB) released a comprehensive set of ‘Recommendations for the security of internet payments’, following a two-month public consultation carried out in 2012. The recommendations were developed by the European Forum on the Security of Retail Payments (SecuRe Pay Forum). The SecuRe Pay Forum was established in 2011 as a voluntary cooperative initiative between relevant authorities from the European Economic Area; supervisors of payment service providers and overseers in particular. It was formed with the objective of facilitating common knowledge and understanding of issues related to the security of electronic retail payment services and instruments and, where necessary, issuing recommendations.

On 20 October 2014, the European Banking Authority (EBA) published a consultation paper on the implementation of its guidelines on the security of internet payments. These guidelines are the first output of the joint work undertaken by the EBA and the ECB on the security of payment services. (For information on the cooperation between the ECB and EBA to increase the security of retail payments, refer to ‘October 2014’ on this timeline.)

The draft guidelines on the security of internet payments are based on the recommendations of the SecuRe Pay Forum released by the ECB in January 2013 with an implementation date for 1 February 2015. During a stock-take of the progress of its work in summer 2014, the SecuRe Pay Forum concluded that a more solid legal basis would be beneficial to ensure consistent implementation by financial institutions across all European Union Member States, as well as to reassure financial institutions that required investments and system changes are being followed up by a consistent regulatory framework. To this end, the EBA, as one of the SecuRe Pay Forum members, agreed to issue guidelines based on the SecuRe Pay Forum recommendations, which will enter into force in August 2015 - an extension of six months compared to the original SecuRe Pay Forum implementation date.

The EBA pointed out that while the SecuRe Pay Forum had already consulted on the substance of the requirements and incorporated the responses, the EBA consulted specifically on the implementation of its guidelines, as these might warrant some adjustments in the context of the negotiations of the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2).

The EBA published the finalised guidelines on 19 December 2014 which set the minimum security requirements that payment service providers in the EU will be expected to implement by 1 August 2015. The guidelines cover three main categories; the general control and security environment, specific control and security measures for internet payments, and customer awareness, education and communication. An essential element for the EBA guidelines is the reliance on the concept of strong customer authentication.

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December 2015:

The revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) is published in the Official Journal of the EU.

On 23 December 2015, the revised Payment Services Directive, Directive (EU) 2015/2366 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 on payment services in the internal market, amending Directives 2002/65/EC, 2009/110/EC and 2013/36/EU and Regulation (EU) No 1093/2010, and repealing Directive 2007/64/EC, was published in the Official Journal of the European Union (PSD2). The PSD2 should be transposed by EU Member States in national law by 13 January 2018, as of which date Directive 2007/64/EC on payment services in the internal market (Payment Services Directive, “PSD”) will be repealed.

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February 2016:

Exemptions regarding use of the IBAN, BIC and ISO 20022 permissible under Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 are no longer possible after 1 February 2016. Niche products must comply with Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 by 1 February 2016.

Article 6(1) and (2) of the ‘Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro’ (the SEPA Regulation) mandates that credit transfers and direct debits (in the euro area) shall be carried out in accordance with the relevant requirements set out in Article 5 and in the Annex to the Regulation by 1 February 2014, subject to certain limited exemptions mentioned in the Regulation. (See ‘February 2012’ in this timeline.) The SEPA Regulation (Article 16) had introduced several exemptions regarding the use of the International Bank Account Number (IBAN), the Business Identifier Code (BIC) and the ISO 20022 XML message standards by the February 2014 deadline. European Union (EU) Member States had discretion as to whether they would use any or all of the options to derogate from the 1 February 2014 deadline (until 1 February 2016) with regard to the use of the IBAN, the BIC and the ISO 20022 XML message standards by payment service users. The SEPA Regulation also stipulates that credit transfer and direct debit transactions with a cumulative market share of less than 10 percent in an EU Member State that were granted a waiver must comply with the provisions set out in this legislative act only by 1 February 2016.

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May 2016:

The Crown Dependencies become part of the EPC SEPA schemes geographical scope.

The islands of Jersey and Guernsey, as well as the Isle of Man (collectively known as the UK Crown Dependencies) are as of 1 May 2016 part of the geographical scope of the SEPA schemes.

October 2016:

Deadline for migration to SEPA in non-euro countries.

In February 2012, the European Union (EU) co-legislators, i.e. the European Parliament and the Council of the EU representing EU governments, adopted the ‘Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro’, also known as the SEPA Regulation. According to Article 16(8) of this legislative act, the deadline for compliance in non-euro countries is 31 October 2016.

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There are currently no SEPA-related announcements planned for 2017. Please watch this space for further updates.

There are currently no SEPA-related announcements planned for 2018. Please watch this space for further updates.

There are currently no SEPA-related announcements planned for 2019. Please watch this space for further updates.

There are currently no SEPA-related announcements planned for 2020. Please watch this space for further updates.

Payment Schemes
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When the EU authorities first launched the SEPA process, they expected the banking industry to contribute the resources required to develop European instruments for electronic euro payments. The European banking sector created the European Payments Council (EPC) in 2002. In close dialogue with stakeholders, the EPC developed, among other things, the SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit Schemes.
SEPA
Credit Transfer
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The EPC launched the SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) Scheme in January 2008. The SCT Scheme enables payment service providers to offer a core and basic credit transfer service throughout SEPA for either single or bulk payments. The scheme's standards facilitate payment initiation, processing and reconciliation.
SEPA
Direct Debit
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The EPC launched the SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) Core and Business to Business (B2B) Schemes in November 2009. The SDD Schemes create for the first time a payment instrument that can be used for both domestic and cross-border collections throughout SEPA.


Technical Standards
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The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards. The SEPA payment schemes are based on the following standards developed by ISO: the International Bank Account Number (IBAN), the Business Identifier Code (BIC) and the ISO 20022 message standards.
International Bank Account Number FIND OUT MORECLOSE
ISO standard 13616 specifies the elements of an International Bank Account number (IBAN) used to facilitate the processing of data internationally in data interchange.
Business Identifier Code FIND OUT MORECLOSE
ISO standard 9362 specifies the elements and structure of a universal identifier code, the Business Identifier Code (BIC), for financial and non-financial institutions and related entities.
ISO 20022 FIND OUT MORECLOSE
The realisation of SEPA requires agreement on a common set of data to be exchanged in a common syntax. The SEPA data formats, based on the global ISO 20022 message standards, are detailed in the implementation guidelines released by the EPC with regard to the SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit Rulebooks.


Cards
SEPA
Cards Framework FIND OUT MORECLOSE
The SEPA Cards Framework (SCF) outlines high level principles and rules that when implemented by the card industry, will deliver a consistent user experience to both cardholders and merchants when making or accepting euro payments or cash withdrawals. The SCF recognises the EMV standard for SEPA-wide acceptance of card payments.
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The EU authorities driving the SEPA programme stressed the need to create harmonised cards standardisation requirements. In response to these expectations retailers, vendors, processors, card schemes and the European Payments Council jointly created the Cards Stakeholders Group (CSG) in 2009. The CSG develops and maintains the SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume.
SEPA
Cards Standardisation Volume FIND OUT MORECLOSE
The SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume (the SCS Volume), developed by the Cards Stakeholders Group (CSG), defines a standard set of requirements to ensure an interoperable and scalable card and terminal infrastructure across SEPA, based on open international card standards.