Now that the mandatory migration to the EPC’s SEPA Credit Transfer and Direct Debit schemes has been achieved in Europe, the EPC continues its contribution to further develop the SEPA project in areas where payment harmonisation is still lacking, while also undertaking other multi-stakeholder initiatives.
The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is an EU integration initiative pursued by the EU institutions: the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of the EU representing EU governments, and the European Central Bank (ECB). The introduction of physical euro banknotes and coins in 2002 was just the beginning of the harmonisation of payments in Europe. To achieve a true single European market, harmonisation of electronic euro transactions was also required.
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. The European banking sector therefore created the EPC in 2002. Since then, in close dialogue with the stakeholder community, the EPC has developed, among other things, the SEPA Credit Transfer, the SEPA Instant Credit Transfer, the SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) Core and the SDD Business-to-Business payment schemes.
These schemes – which the EPC regularly updates and enhances – help to realise the political vision of SEPA.
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, and is not responsible for the overall management of the SEPA process.
All payment service providers offering their customers euro credit transfers and direct debits had to migrate to SEPA (that is to say, to propose solutions based on the EPC’s SEPA payment schemes, enabling a pan-European reach of euro credit transfers and direct debits) by August 2014 (euro area) or October 2016 (non-euro area). The migration to SEPA, as mandated in the SEPA Regulation, is therefore over.
It does not mean that payments are now completely harmonised in SEPA, and some areas (such as card, mobile and Person-to-Person payments) still require a standardisation effort to make it possible to pay anywhere in SEPA with the same ease and convenience as in one’s home country
The EPC is actively involved in these areas and also contributes to other multi-stakeholder initiatives such as the European Cards Stakeholders Group and the Euro Retail Payments Board created by the ECB to bring together the demand and supply sides of payments.