SEPA - Vision and Goals
What is SEPA?
The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) stands for a European Union (EU) payments integration initiative. With the introduction of the euro currency in 1999, the political drivers of the SEPA initiative - EU governments, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) - have focused on the integration of the euro payments market. Since then, the political drivers have called upon the payments industry to bolster the common currency, by developing a set of harmonised payment schemes and frameworks for electronic euro payments.
- Integrating the multitude of existing national euro credit transfer and euro direct debit schemes into a single set of European payment schemes is a natural step towards making the euro a single and fully operational currency.
- Creating a SEPA for cards aims at ensuring a consistent customer experience when making or accepting payments with cards throughout the euro area.
The European authorities driving the SEPA process have clarified that migration to harmonised SEPA payment schemes and technical standards does not conclude this EU integration project. In a next step, the regulators expect further harmonisation in the area of mobile and online payments.
The jurisdictional scope of the SEPA Schemes currently consists of the 28 EU Member States plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Monaco and San Marino. Please refer to the EPC list of SEPA Scheme Countries.
For more information, see ‘SEPA at a Glance: the Infographic'. This infographic provides a timeline highlighting key milestones of SEPA roll-out and an overview of the actors involved in the SEPA process at the European level and their interaction.
What are the benefits?
SEPA generates significant benefits for customers of Payment Service Providers (PSPs). The EPC offers a series of publications, which outline the benefits of SEPA for different stakeholders including consumers, businesses and public administrations (see 'SEPA Benefits for Customers').
EU Regulation defines mandatory deadlines for migration to SEPA
In February 2012, the 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 and amending Regulation (EC) No 924/2009' (the SEPA Regulation). It 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 SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) and SEPA Direct Debit (SDD). For more information on the SEPA Regulation, refer to this page on the EPC Website.
Selection of articles from the EPC Newsletter and other sources
- EPC Podcast: Latest SEPA Developments
- Criteria for Participation in SEPA Schemes
- EPC List of SEPA Scheme Countries
- SEPA Fact Check: The SEPA Benefits Projected by EU Governments, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Central Bank (1999 - 2013). Note: the European Payments Council is not part of the EU institutional framework
- Council of the European Union: Council Conclusions on SEPA (14 May 2013)
- European Commission Website: Commission's Role in SEPA
- European Central Bank Website: Retail Payments
- EPC Video: An Introduction to SEPA
- Free Online EPC Newsletter
- EBA Portal
- Equens News