Empowering European account-based payments with standardised QR-codes

Empowering European account-based payments with standardised QR-codes

28 February 22

Share This

The world is going contactless. As smartphones spread and our economy goes digital, uptake of contactless payments has accelerated – including account-based mobile payments made using Quick-Response codes, or QR-codes for short. On 16 February 2022, we launched an eight-week public consultation on a new draft document on the Standardisation of QR-codes for mobile initiated SEPA (instant) credit transfers (MSCTs). Here, we explore the document’s genesis and its importance for the European payments landscape at large. 

The genesis

The Multi-Stakeholder Group on Mobile Initiated SEPA (Instant) Credit Transfers (MSG MSCT) has produced a document on the Standardisation of QR-codes for MSCTs to facilitate the interoperability of these type of payments. This leverages the document it had previously developed in 2021 on “Standardisation and governance of QR-codes for Instant Payments at the Point of Interaction (IPs at the POI)”. With the development of this new document on QR-codes, the MSG MSCT also addresses the Recommendation A included in the Euro Retail Payments Board (ERPB) Statement published in November 2021.

This document standardises a payee- and a payer-presented QR-code for all types of MSCTs, i.e. all payment contexts: Person-to-Person (P2P), Consumer-to-Business (C2B), Business-to-Business (B2B), Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and invoices, while also covering both SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst) and SCT payments. In addition, the document contains a chapter devoted to the security aspects of the data contained in the QR-codes. Furthermore, the document provides a suggestion for further international standardisation of the QR codes for MSCTs and briefly describes in an annex the interoperability of the QR code standard specified with other QR code initiatives for mobile payments defined by Alipay, EMPSA (European Mobile Payment Systems Association), EMVCo and EPI (European Payments Initiative).

Standard for QR-codes for MSCTs

The standardisation of QR-codes for MSCTs is one of the cornerstones towards interoperability of MSCTs across Europe.

Today, multiple European countries already have their own “domestic” solutions for mobile payments in place, relying on QR-codes. However, most of these local solutions stop at national borders, creating a fragmented European landscape. The usage of the standardised payee-presented QR-codes for MSCTs will enable a consumer to pay in a shop abroad, hereby using their own “domestic” mobile payment solution with which they are familiar, while scanning the QR-code from the merchant’s payment terminal. Likewise, the usage of the standardised payer-presented QR-codes for MSCTs will enable a merchant to scan this QR-code while the foreign consumer authenticates the transaction through their “domestic” mobile payment solution. In this way, the standardised QR-codes contribute to the increasingly mobile lifestyle of consumers, while enabling the transaction authentication directly on their mobile device. To merchants, it will open possibilities to enlarge their customer base and offer value added services, while also leading to a reduction in investment costs needed to accept mobile payments. At the same time, for person-to-person payments, use of standardised QR-codes enables uptake of new services, such as the ability to split bills amongst friends.  

In a nutshell, the standardisation of QR-codes for MSCTs will contribute to harmonisation and enhance the efficiency of account-based mobile payments across Europe, thereby reducing fragmentation of the European payment landscape. Furthermore, it may accelerate the take-up of instant payments, in particular for retail payments made at the Point of Interaction (POI).

What’s next?

In order to support development of a successful MSCT ecosystem that provides value for all, it is crucial to gather industry opinion and market feedback regarding this QR code standard for MSCTs. To this end, an eight-week public consultation has been launched before a final version of the document is prepared for publication on the EPC website and for further standardisation through an International Standardisation Body. The multi-stakeholder group values your opinion and welcomes any feedback and comments that you may have regarding the document (see “related article”). 

Your reactions

If you would like to comment on this article, please identify yourself with your first and last name. Your name will appear next to your comment. Email addresses will not be published. Please note that by accessing or contributing to the discussion you agree to abide by the EPC website conditions of use.