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Public consultation on SEPA scheme development is going on now

30 September 09

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The scheme change management process: open, transparent and inclusive

Driving forward innovation in payments the encourages all players acting in the payments market to actively contribute to the evolution of the schemes. The change management process governing the development of the schemes is set out in the Scheme Management Internal Rules[1] annexed to the Rulebooks. The change management process provides all stakeholders a unique opportunity to shape the future of euro payments.

The Change Requests with regard to the three schemes now out for consultation detail suggestions for changes submitted by customer representatives, by Working and Support Groups and by the Scheme Management Committee (SMC). In addition, each Change Request offers the recommendations of the Payment Schemes Working Group (SPS WG) on the way forward with respect to such individual suggestions. The recommendations of the SPS WG are based on the following criteria defined in the Internal Rules:

  • the change presents a case for wide market-acceptance;
  • the change is underpinned by a cost-benefit analysis (if appropriate);
  • the change is aligned with the strategic objectives of the ;
  • the change is feasible to implement.

The main operational modifications possibly to be incorporated into the Rulebooks are outlined below. Other possible changes will reflect the expansion of the area, application of the Payment Services Directive (PSD) and adherence to the schemes by Payment Institutions as well as government bodies historically active in payments. Banking communities are asked to consult as wide a range of stakeholders as possible including banks, customers and service suppliers on the evolution of the Rulebooks.

Suggested operational changes to the Credit Transfer Scheme Rulebook

With regard to the Credit Transfer Scheme the SPS WG recommends to include the following operational changes into the Rulebook:

The recognises that the recently approved ISO Creditor Reference Standard (ISO Standard 11649) offers the potential for -wide application. This standard facilitates automatic reconciliation between invoices and related payments. The proposal of the SPS WG is to incorporate this as a mandatory feature in the Scheme.

In addition, it is recommended to include a recall feature in the Scheme Rulebook. A recall allows customers to request their bank to cancel accepted credit transfer instructions up to 10 banking business days after execution. The recall procedure can only be initiated by the bank originating the credit transfer. If initiated before settlement it will lead to a cancellation, and if initiated after settlement it becomes a recall. Reasons for a recall are limited to: duplicate sending, technical problems resulting in erroneous credit transfers and credit transfers issued fraudulently. The proposal of the SPS WG is to incorporate this as a mandatory feature in the Scheme.

Suggested operational change to the Core Direct Debit Scheme Rulebook

With regard to the Core Direct Debit Scheme it has been suggested to exclude the debtor refund right when an exact amount is specified in the mandate. The mandate is completed by the debtor (a customer purchasing goods or services) to authorise the creditor (a retailer or service provider) to collect payments via Direct Debit. At the same time, the mandate includes the authorisation of the debtor bank to pay these collections. The objective is to create certainty for the creditor on the immediate finality of the payments in cases where the amount is known in advance. The SPS WG proposal is to make this feature an optional part of the Scheme.

Suggested operational change to the Business to Business Direct Debit Scheme Rulebook

The Scheme requires debtor banks to ensure that the direct debit collection is authorised by checking the collection against mandate information. In other words, the bank of the payer checks whether the payer indeed authorised a Direct Debit payment prior to debiting the payer's account and sending the money to the biller's bank. This procedure is also referred to as the validation process.

In business it is common for multiple signatures to be required for the authorisation of payments. When a mandate is issued electronically[2], the validation process should allow, after the first authorisation, subsequent authorisations within an agreed time span. The SPS WG recommends that an optional feature be developed and incorporated in the e-mandate option of the Rulebook providing an extended timeline for the validation of an e-mandate.

Taking into account comments received during the ongoing consultation, the SPS WG will complete a Change Proposal including those changes that are supported by a broad majority within the payments constituency for approval by the Plenary in October 2009.

Non-operational changes to become effective with Rulebook release in November 2009

The Change Requests pertaining to all three Rulebooks contain the recommendation to implement changes to the Scheme Management Rules and to chapter 5 of the Rulebooks. Chapter 5 of the Rulebooks defines the access criteria for organisations wishing to adhere to the schemes. The suggested changes to the Internal Rules and to chapter 5 of the Rulebooks are detailed in the relevant Annexes of the Change Requests. It is further recommended that these changes, if approved, become effective already in November 2009. Such changes to the Internal Rules or chapter 5 will not affect the operation of the schemes in any way.

  • The current Rulebook version 3.2 will be replaced by version 3.3. The Rulebook version 3.3 will take effect on 2 November 2009.
  • The current Rulebook version 3.3 will be replaced by version 3.4. The Rulebook version 3.4 will take effect on 2 November 2009, the launch date of the scheme.
  • The current Rulebook version 1.2 will be replaced by version 1.3. The Rulebook version 1.3 will take effect on 2 November 2009, the launch date of the scheme.
Operational changes to become effective with Rulebook release in November 2010

Any operational changes approved by the Plenary in October 2009 will be incorporated into a version 4.0 of the Rulebook, a version 4.0 of the Rulebook and a version 2.0 of the Rulebook, with the intention that these become effective in November 2010.

Christian Westerhaus is the Chair of the Payment Schemes Working Group (SPS WG).

Related Link:

To view the documents pertaining to the ongoing public consultation on changes possibly to be included in the Rulebooks for the Credit Transfer Scheme, the Core Direct Debit Scheme and the B2B Direct Debit Scheme including templates to submit your response to the click here.


[1] The Scheme Management Internal Rules define the administration and compliance functions performed by the Scheme Management Committee (SMC) and the rules to be followed when modifying the schemes themselves. The Internal Rules are publicly available as Annexes to the Rulebooks. The Internal Rules can also be downloaded as a separate document from the website (About / Scheme Management). An extract of the Internal Rules pertaining to the scheme change management process is available following the link at the end of this article.

[2] The Direct Debit Scheme Rulebooks include the possibility to create mandates through the use of electronic channels. The e-mandate facility is based on secure, widely used online banking services of the debtor bank and will be an optional service offered by banks.

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