The European Payments Council ( ) is currently organising three public consultations related to the development of the existing Single Euro Payments Area ( ) schemes which it manages. The rulebooks for the following schemes are subject to public consultations until 4 July 2016: the Credit Transfer ( ), Direct Debit Core ( ), and Business-to-Business ( ) schemes. These rulebooks are the most important element of the schemes, specifying the business and technical rules that govern them. They have to be followed by all scheme participants across .
As part of the ’s commitment to stakeholders’ involvement, in 2015 the called for suggestions to enhance the existing rulebooks. The has registered nearly 40 change requests from various Payment Service Providers ( ) and stakeholder communities, including from within the itself. All have been included in the public consultations.
Compared to the rulebook versions currently in effect or being effective as of November 2016, what are the major rulebook change requests presently subject to the public consultations?
The main change requests in a nutshell
To shed some light on these change requests, I have highlighted below those that would have the most significant impact on the schemes if they were to be included in the finalised rulebooks.
- The current ‘recommended-only’ Customer-to-Bank Implementation Guidelines (C2B ) becoming mandatory
This change request stems from a recommendation made by the Euro Retail Payments Board ( ) at the end of 2014.
In the event that an originator or an creditor wishes to use these C2B file specifications for its initiation message files, they will have the certainty that every scheme participant is technically capable of processing their and transactions based on these specifications.
- Amendments to the character set in the C2B and inter-bank to allow the use of national characters in and transactions
The aim of this change request is to extend the current limited character set in the interbank pacs messages to the UTF-8 character set (the UTF-8 is a character set capable of encoding all possible characters). This would allow the acceptance of and transactions that contain national characters.
- Remittance information: extension in the number of characters for both structured and unstructured information and the combined use of both types of such information in a single transaction
These change requests concern both and transactions. As for the extension of remittance information, the itself suggested making additional information available outside of the / message in the ‘cloud’. This would provide additional information feeds to the payment service users ( ) outside the payment infrastructure, thus facilitating the personalised exchange of unlimited information between .
- Extension of the collection return period from two to three Interbank Business Days
The communities which have requested this change indicate that it is often difficult for the debtor bank to resolve exceptional situations (e.g. funding arrangements, missing mandate confirmation) at the end of two business days. This problem is exacerbated when the collection due date, or one of the two subsequent Interbank Business Days, is a local public holiday in the debtor bank’s country. Depending on the organisation of the , some decisions may need a human intervention.
With the volumes of growing, the period of two Interbank Business Days is sometimes too short. Yet, succeeding in contacting the debtor to avoid the returns is very important for both the creditor and the debtor.
The ’s view on the change requests
The , through the voice of the Scheme Evolution Management Working Group, ventured its recommendation on each of the change requests received. These recommendations are available in the public consultation documents made for each scheme (SCT, SDD Core and SDD B2B).
What will happen after the public consultations?
The final decision of whether to incorporate a change request into the rulebooks is subject to the outcome of the public consultation. Change requests that find broad acceptance in the overall payment community, and that are technically and legally feasible, will be taken forward, after approval by the Scheme Management Board (the decision-making body in charge of the schemes’ administration and evolution). Others will not be retained.
In November 2016, the will publish the updated rulebooks and implementation guidelines that will enter into force one year later, leaving enough time for scheme participants to implement the necessary changes in their systems.
I hope that this explanation will improve the payment stakeholders’ understanding about how the schemes might evolve. If you agree (or not!) with any of the change requests mentioned above I encourage you to participate in the public consultations in order to have your say, and therefore to ensure that the schemes reflect the needs of the majority of market participants!
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