Recap: the role of the European Payments Council () with regard to Credit Transfer () and Direct Debit ()
With the introduction of the euro currency in 1999, the political drivers of the Single Euro Payments Area () process, i.e. the European Union (EU) governments, European Commission, European Parliament and the European Central Bank (ECB), expected the banking industry to contribute the resources required to develop European instruments for electronic euro payments. In response to these expectations, the European banking sector created the in 2002. At the request of the political authorities and in close dialogue with the stakeholder community, the developed, among other things, the and Schemes which help to realise .
It is important to keep in mind that the – which is not part of the institutional framework – carries out the scheme management function subject to legal and regulatory conditions defined by the authorities. In particular, the schemes must comply with the relevant requirements set out in Article 5 of, and in the Annex to, the ‘Regulation () No 260/2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro’ (the Regulation). (To learn more about the role of the European Commission and the European Central Bank, respectively, with regard to the evolution of and , refer to the ‘related links’ and ‘related articles in this issue’ below.)
Recap: the legal nature of the and Rulebooks
The payment schemes as defined in the and Rulebooks contain sets of rules and technical standards defined by standards bodies such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for the execution of payment transactions. Simply put, the rulebooks can be regarded as instruction manuals which provide a common understanding among payment service providers () on how to move funds from account A to account B within . Strictly and formally speaking, the rulebooks set out the rights and obligations of all institutions bound by their terms, i.e. the scheme participants, ( that have formally adhered to the schemes), and the . The rulebooks bind each scheme participant “to comply with their obligations to the and to all other scheme participants pursuant to the rules set out therein”.1 The rulebooks include mandatory elements that must be observed by all scheme participants as well as optional features.
(In this context, it should be recalled that payment products and services offered to the customer are developed by individual operating in the competitive environment. The development of payment products and services, based on the payment schemes, including all product-related features is outside the scope of the .)
Recap: the timelines applicable to the scheme change management process
The launched the Scheme in January 2008 and the Core and Business to Business (B2B) Schemes in November 2009. The payment schemes, as set out in the and Rulebooks, evolve based on a transparent change management process adhered to by the . This evolution reflects changes in market needs and updates of technical standards. The principles governing the evolution of the Schemes are set out in the Scheme Management Internal Rules, which are an integral part of the rulebooks.
Since the launch of the and Schemes, the has generally published updated versions of the rulebooks and associated implementation guidelines once annually in November to take effect in November of the following year2. In accordance with industry best practice, all stakeholders and their suppliers have sufficient lead time to address rulebook updates prior to such changes taking effect.
Recap: the scheme change management process provides all stakeholders with the opportunity to participate
The scheme change management process provides all stakeholders with the opportunity to participate; i.e. to introduce suggestions for changes to the schemes. All interested parties had been invited to submit suggestions for changes proposed to be incorporated into updated versions of the and Rulebooks by 28 February 2014. All suggestions for changes to the rulebooks that were received by that date were evaluated by the Payment Schemes Working Group (SPS WG) and consolidated into a single change request document per rulebook. As with previous scheme change cycles, all proposed changes to the schemes were released with the change request documents for a three-month public consultation (this time between 19 May and 15 August 2014). An overview of the suggestions for possible modifications to the and Rulebooks submitted with the 2014 public consultation was provided with the Newsletter April 2014 edition (see ‘related articles in previous issues’ below).
Proposed changes to the schemes that find broad acceptance in the entire stakeholder community and are technically and legally feasible are taken forward. Proposed changes that lack such broad support are not – regardless of whether such a change is proposed by a or by a user representative. This ensures that the and Schemes evolve in line with the requirements of the majority of all market participants.
The reports detailing the feedback received to the 2014 public consultation will be published together with the next generation rulebooks in November 2014.
The Rulebook version 8.0, Core Rulebook version 8.0 and B2B Rulebook version 6.0 will be published in the fourth week of November 2014 to take effect on 22 November 2015
In October 2014, the approved the Rulebook version 8.0, Core Rulebook version 8.0, B2B Rulebook version 6.0 and associated implementation guidelines. These rulebook versions will be published in the fourth week of November 2014 to take effect on 22 November 2015.
Main change to be introduced with the Core Rulebook version 8.0 and the B2B Rulebook version 6.0: updated wording regarding the use of electronic mandates
To give some background: the Schemes allow a creditor (biller) to collect funds from a debtor’s (payer’s) account, provided that a signed mandate has been granted by the debtor to the creditor. A mandate is signed by the debtor to authorise the creditor to collect a payment and to instruct the debtor’s bank to pay those collections. The Rulebooks provide the possibility to issue mandates created through the use of electronic channels – often referred to as electronic mandates. Several of the stakeholders who submitted suggestions for modifications to the Rulebooks indicated that a higher degree of flexibility regarding the use of legacy as well as future electronic mandate solutions should be introduced into the Rulebooks.
It is widely recognised that the efficient handling and the acceptance of electronic mandates is a very important element in the context of a successful migration to and for the further development of the Core and B2B Schemes. On 1 October 2013, the published a clarification letter (see ‘related links’ below), which highlights that the signature methods as described in section 4.1 of the Core and B2B Rulebooks are not exhaustive. scheme participants, (i.e. that have formally adhered to the Schemes), may consider allowing continued usage of other legally binding methods of signature including those that were used under the local legacy scheme rules.
In line with the principles set out in the clarification letter, the wording in section 4.1 (‘The Mandate’) in the Core Rulebook version 8.0 and B2B Rulebook version 6.0 will be amended as follows (strike through reflects text to be deleted; bold reflects text to be added):
“Alternatively, the mandate may be an electronic document which is created and signed using a legally binding method of signature with a Qualified Electronic Signature agreed between the Creditor and the Creditor Bank”.
The acknowledges that this clarification will not solve the issue of a legally binding signature in country A not being accepted in country B. The must however, stress that it cannot resolve through its Scheme Rulebooks legal issues at the level relating to electronic mandates in the absence of clear, harmonised European legislation in this area.
The points out that at its first meeting held in May 2014, the Euro Retail Payments Board () – established and chaired by the European Central Bank – identified electronic mandates as a key issue and established a specific working group dedicated to that topic. This working group on pan-European electronic mandate solutions for SDDs – co-chaired by an Ecommerce Europe representative and an representative – started its work in July 2014 and planned a number of activities and meetings in order to produce a report to be submitted to the by December 2014. The looks forward to the outcome of the work of the working group on pan-European electronic mandate solutions for SDDs and to the ensuing discussions at the . (For more information, refer to the article ‘Learn More About Work Items Related to Credit Transfer and Direct Debit Addressed by the New Euro Retail Payments Board () Chaired by the European Central Bank’ in this edition of the Newsletter.)
Other changes to be introduced with the next generation rulebooks
The table below offers an overview of other changes to be introduced with the Rulebook version 8.0, the Core Rulebook version 8.0 and the B2B Rulebook version 6.0.
Figure 1: Overview of other changes to be introduced with Rulebook version 8.0, Core Rulebook version 8.0 and B2B Rulebook version 6.0
|Change||Description||v. 8.0||Core v. 8.0||B2B v 6.0|
|Update of Rulebook section 5.4 ‘Eligibility for Participation’||Update in the category descriptions of scheme applicants that are deemed automatically to be eligible under rulebook section 5.4. Among other changes, it includes banks authorised by the Central Bank of San Marino.||
|Corrections on the definition of ‘refusal by the debtor’||Refusal not to pay a collection is always based on a request of the debtor before due date/ settlement date. The technical R-transaction could be either a reject (which is the preference) or if technically not feasible before settlement a return. Only refusals returned by a reject or a return would use the proper reason code ‘refusal by the Debtor’.||--||
|‘Form of mandate' in section 5.7 “Obligations of a Creditor Bank”||The notion ‘form’ might be misinterpreted as a specific concrete ‘format’ or ‘template’. Instead, it should be understood that the chosen mandate has to fulfil a set of requirements. A wording change will be done.||--||
|Clarification on the use of attribute AT-25||Reword AT-25 (date of signing the Mandate): specify that the date refers to the date on which the initial mandate had been signed and that the value of this attribute remains unchanged for the mandate lifecycle.||--||
|Removal of Mandate illustration in DS-01 The Mandate||Take the mandate illustration out of the two Rulebooks and include them in the document EPC392-08 ‘Guidelines for the appearance of Mandates’.||--||
|Extension of mandate amendment combinations in AT-24 ‘The Reason for Amendment of the Mandate’||This change will allow creditors to send more combinations of mandate amendment reasons in just one message.||--||
|Inclusion of new reason ‘Unable to obtain Mandate confirmation from Debtor’ in attribute AT-R3 – ‘The Reason Code for Non-Acceptance’||Extend the explanation of reason code MD01 to ‘No Mandate or unable to obtain Mandate confirmation from Debtor’.||--|| --
The Rulebook version 8.0, Core Rulebook version 8.0 and B2B Rulebook version 6.0 will be further amended during 2015 to include updated Scheme Management Internal Rules (SMIRs). Changes to the SMIRs have no operational impact whatsoever.
Figure 2: Release management cycle applicable to Rulebook version 8.0, Core Rulebook version 8.0 and B2B Rulebook version 6.0
The Core Rulebook version 9.0 and B2B Rulebook version 7.0 will be published in January 2015 to take effect in November 2016
Based on the feedback received during the 2014 public consultation, the resolved in October 2014 to include changes related to the Core Scheme standard time cycle and the use of sequence types in both Schemes in a further iteration of the Rulebooks, i.e. the Core Rulebook version 9.0 and B2B Rulebook version 7.0. To give stakeholders ample time to implement the main changes related to the standard time cycle and use of sequence types, the Core Rulebook version 9.0 and B2B Rulebook version 7.0 will be published together with the associated implementation guidelines already in January 2015 to take effect in November 2016.
Main change to be introduced with the Core Rulebook version 9.0: all collections presented for the first time, on a recurrent basis or as a one-off collection, can be presented up to D-1 inter-bank business day
To give some background: the standard time cycle of the Core Rulebook currently is: the debtor’s bank must receive the request for a first direct debit collection or for a one-off direct debit collection at least five business days prior to the due date (‘D-5’). For subsequent direct debit collections, the debtor’s bank must receive such a request at least two business days prior to the due date (‘D-2’). The due date3 (‘D’) is assigned by the creditor (biller) and should be agreed with the debtor in the contract underlying a direct debit collection (a newspaper subscription, for example).4
The Core Rulebook currently includes the possibility of using a shorter time cycle for the presentation of first, recurrent and one off direct debit payments by allowing the creditor’s bank to send the payments to the debtor's bank at least one inter-bank business day5 prior to the due date (‘D-1’). This option, (which is often referred to as ‘ COR1’), caters for the needs of certain businesses which require a shorter time cycle for direct debit payments than the standard cycle. It allows for time critical business transactions, e.g. security related transactions and insurance collections. Several of the stakeholders who submitted suggestions for modifications to the Core Rulebook suggested making the currently optional shorter time cycle for the presentation of first, recurrent and one off direct debit payments mandatory thereby replacing the current D-5, D-2 time cycle.
The 2014 public consultation identified broad support to amend the Core Rulebook as regards the standard time cycle. However, a majority of stakeholders advocated implementing related changes only by November 2016 to allow for sufficient time to update processes and operations.
The therefore, resolved to introduce the shorter standard time cycle in a further iteration of the Core Rulebook, i.e. the Core Rulebook version 9.0. With a view to provide ample time to implement this change, the Core Rulebook version 9.0 will be published already in January 2015 to take effect in November 2016. As of the effective date of November 2016 of the Core Rulebook version 9.0, all collections presented for the first time, on a recurrent basis or as a one-off collection can be presented up to D-1 inter-bank business day (D-1). This change does not impact the creditor as the creditor can continue to use the currently applicable Core collection presentation timelines after November 2016.
It should be noted that all participating in the Core Scheme must continue to support the current standard time cycle of the Core Scheme until the shorter standard time cycle takes effect in November 2016. Creditors should contact their bank to learn more about the possibilities of using these shorter timelines prior to November 2016, as certain banks or communities of banks may already agree to operate under these timelines, while other banks may not yet support this currently optional feature. To learn which , or communities thereof, have advised the that they are making use of the currently optional shorter time cycle, refer to the Website page, entitled ‘Use of Core Options’ (see ‘related links’ below).
Main change to be introduced with both the Core Rulebook version 9.0 and the B2B Rulebook version 7.0: the current requirement to use the sequence type ‘FRST’ in a first of a recurrent series of collections is no longer mandatory
To give some background: the Rulebooks currently require that the payment message used to request a direct debit collection specifies whether the transaction is a first, one-off, recurrent or last collection. (These specifications are also referred to as ‘sequence types’.) For further information on the subject of sequence types, refer to the ‘ Clarification Paper: Credit Transfer and Direct Debit’ (see ‘related links’ below). Several of the stakeholders who submitted suggestions for modifications to the Rulebooks indicated that the various sequence types that must be observed should be simplified.
The 2014 public consultation identified broad support to amend both Rulebooks as regards the use of sequence types. However, a majority of stakeholders advocated implementing related changes only by November 2016 to allow for sufficient time to update processes and operations.
The therefore, resolved to also include this change in the Core Rulebook version 9.0 and the B2B Rulebook version 7.0 to be published in January 2015 to take effect in November 2016. The current requirement to use the sequence type ‘FRST’ in a first of a recurrent series of collections is no longer mandatory as of the effective date of November 2016 of the Core Rulebook version 9.0 and the B2B Rulebook version 7.0 (i.e. a first collection can be used in the same way as a subsequent collection with the sequence type ‘RCUR’). This change does not impact the creditor side as the creditor can continue to provide the sequence type ‘FRST’ after November 2016 (no reject rule for data element ‘FRST’).
The next scheme change management cycle will roll out in 2016 / 2017
As a result of the updated release schedule for next generations of the rulebooks detailed above, there will be no further scheme change cycle in 2015. This means that the period for stakeholders to submit suggestions for additional changes to the rulebooks is open and will end on 31 December 2015. These suggestions will then be considered with regard to the rulebook versions to be published in 2016 to take effect in 2017.
(Note: there will be no further update of the Rulebook in 2015, i.e. the Rulebook version 8.0 to be published in November 2014 will remain effective until November 2017.)
Way forward with regard to suggestions for main changes to the rulebooks that were not supported by a majority of contributors to the 2014 public consultation
As reported with the April 2014 edition of this newsletter, the had also received suggestions for possible modifications to the and Rulebooks addressing, respectively, the number of characters which can be included with the remittance information and the way forward on the customer-to-bank (C2B) implementation guidelines released by the with regard to the rulebooks. Related suggestions for changes submitted with the change request documents for public consultation in May 2014, however, were not supported by a majority of contributors to the consultation.
The suggestion to make additional customer-to-customer (C2C) information available outside the payment message providing storage location in the message was not supported
To give some background: the and Schemes permit the end-to-end carrying of remittance data on a structured or unstructured basis. The scheme rules allow for up to 140 characters to be included with the remittance information. are obliged to pass on the full remittance information through the payment processing chain. Several of the stakeholders representing, in particular, the corporate community, who submitted suggestions for modifications to the rulebooks indicated that the current standard 140 character remittance information should be re-considered.
The change requests released with the 2014 public consultation included the suggestion to make additional C2C information available outside the payment message providing storage location in the message. To give an example illustrating this suggestion: the or message would only carry the information of the location where the additional C2C information is stored. The additional data separated from the 140 characters of the remittance information could then be sent separately from the or message. Additional data elements that already exist in ISO 20022 (e.g. ‘Remittance Location Electronic Address under Related Remittance Information’) could be taken up as new attributes in the and Rulebooks. These new attributes would store details concerning e.g. the location from where the additional C2C information could be retrieved.
The change requests detailing possible modifications to the rulebooks released with the 2014 public consultation emphasised that the currently limited character set to be used in the schemes would remain unchanged. Furthermore, the additional attributes related to the storage location of the additional C2C information would be optional. Only when the creditor or payer would provide information about the storage location of the additional C2C information in these optional fields, would it be mandatory for the sender bank to transport this storage location information in these fields to the receiving bank. In case of an arrangement between the receiving bank and the payee or debtor, the information about the storage location could be made available. These details would be sent together with the or message but are not part of the payment message. The ’s SPS WG had suggested incorporating this change into the schemes as an optional feature and more specifically through the use of optional fields.
The suggestion to modify the rulebooks accordingly was not supported by a majority of contributors to the 2014 public consultation.
The will address the question of whether, or how, to transport or make available additional information with the payment message in further dialogue with all stakeholders going forward with a view to agree a solution satisfactory to all parties.
The suggestion that scheme participants should accept the customer-to-bank (C2B) messages based on the data set described in its C2B implementation guidelines as a minimum requirement was not supported
To give some background: in the pre- era, dozens of different data formats were in place to process payments across different national and European clearing systems in . The realisation of an integrated euro payments market therefore requires agreement on a common set of data to be exchanged in a common syntax when executing a payment. The data formats as detailed in the implementation guidelines for the C2B and interbank space, respectively, released by the with regard to the and Schemes are based on the global ISO 20022 message standards. The implementation guidelines applicable to the interbank space are mandatory. The implementation guidelines applicable to the C2B space are strongly recommended. However, it is up to the market whether to adhere to the C2B implementation guidelines (or not).
Several market observers commented that multiple specifications based on the recommended C2B implementation guidelines are in use, “which has resulted in subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) differences in the application of the standard.”6 These variations of the C2B implementation guidelines developed and implemented at national level would “risk preventing market harmonisation”7.
Stakeholders operating across borders emphasised that adapting systems and operations to ensure the capabilities required to handle a multitude of variations, (which may differ from country to country across ), is a strain on resources. In their view, it would be required to further harmonise the use of the C2B implementation guidelines or to make the currently recommended C2B implementation guidelines mandatory.
The change requests detailing possible modifications to the rulebooks released with the 2014 public consultation included the suggestion that scheme participants, i.e. that have formally adhered to the schemes, should accept the C2B messages based on the data set described in its C2B implementation guidelines as a minimum requirement.
The suggestion to modify the rulebooks accordingly was not supported by a majority of contributors to the 2014 public consultation.
In light of this outcome of the public consultation, the decided to jointly publish the C2B implementation guidelines, (with effective date in November 2015), and related XML Schema Definition (XSD) schemes. This could be seen as a first step in the direction of harmonising the C2B environment but essentially the initiative will have to be driven by the market.
Outlook: evolution of the and Schemes going forward
The remains committed to ensuring that the and Schemes continue to evolve in line with the requirements of a broad majority of all stakeholders across . To learn more about bodies facilitating the dialogue with representatives of the demand side as well as technical solution providers, refer to the article, entitled ‘European Payments Council 2.0: with Migration (Euro Area) Complete, the Adapts its Structure to Further Enhance Governance and Stakeholder Involvement’ in this edition of the Newsletter (see ‘related articles in this issue’ below).
The also calls attention to work items related to and addressed by the new Euro Retail Payments Board () chaired by the European Central Bank (ECB).
To ensure that any implementation and functioning issues which might prevent the payment schemes from delivering their full potential going forward are addressed, the set up a working group on and post-migration issues. The working group has been addressing the following topics, among others: varying national implementations, additional optional services (AOS) and their effect on interoperability, various barriers (related to business rules) to the cross-border use of , accessibility (ability to use a single payment account in the euro area), reachability of for and , the continued use of conversion services, the use and validation of creditor identifier for and implementation of R-transactions8. This working group is co-chaired by the and the European Association of Corporate Treasurers (EACT) / BusinessEurope. The future evolution of the and Schemes will also reflect the outcome of the dialogue taking place in the . (For detailed information on the composition and mandate of the as well as the work items related to and addressed by the , refer to the related article in this edition of the Newsletter.)
Jean-Yves Jacquelin is the Chair of the Payment Schemes Working Group.
EPC Website: 2015 SCT Rulebook ( Rulebook version 8.0 and associated implementation guidelines)
EPC Website: 2015 SDD Rulebooks ( Core Rulebook version 8.0, B2B Rulebook version 6.0 and associated implementation guidelines)
EPC Website: 2016 SDD Rulebooks ( Core Rulebook version 9.0, B2B Rulebook version 7.0 and associated implementation guidelines)
EPC News (19 May 2014): EPC Launches Three-Month Public Consultation on the Evolution of the SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit Schemes (this link provides access to the change request documents pertaining to the and Rulebooks released for public consultation in May 2014)
Related articles in this issue:
Learn More About Work Items Related to SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit Addressed by the New Euro Retail Payments Board (ERPB) Chaired by the European Central Bank. The ERPB represents the demand and supply sides of the payments market with participation of national central banks
European Payments Council 2.0: with SEPA Migration (Euro Area) Complete, the EPC Adapts its Structure to Further Enhance Governance and Stakeholder Involvement. The new EPC governance model will become operational in the first quarter of 2015
What Consumers and Online Retailers Want or Getting the Balance Right: Security and Simplicity in an Increasingly Mobile World. A commentary on the complexity involved in securing electronic and mobile commerce payments
Related articles in previous issues:
Next Generation SCT and SDD Rulebooks: Three-Month Public Consultation Starts on 19 May 2014. All stakeholders are invited to provide feedback on possible modifications to the SCT and SDD Rulebooks ( Newsletter, Issue 22, April 2014)
Join the Debate on the Further Evolution of the SCT and SDD Schemes: Less Flexibility, More Harmonisation? An overview of the options, variations, exceptions and exemptions possible in SEPA today ( Newsletter, Issue 22, April 2014)
SEPA Direct Debit for Billers: the SDD Core Scheme Timelines. EPC Newsletter series provides support for billers preparing migration to the SDD Schemes ( Newsletter, Issue 12, October 2011)
Join the Debate: European Association of Corporate Treasurers´ Proposals Regarding Remittance Information. Corporates expect that migration to SEPA will improve automatic payment reconciliation ( Newsletter, Issue 15, July 2012)
ISO 20022 Message Standards: Too Many Flavours? Domestic specifications of the SEPA data formats risk preventing market harmonisation ( Newsletter, Issue 12, October 2011)
1 Guide to the Adherence Process for the SEPA Core Direct Debit Scheme and for the SEPA B2B Direct Debit Scheme (EPC329-08) and Guide to the Adherence Process for the SEPA Credit Transfer Scheme (EPC125-07) .
2 In February 2012, the European Union (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’ (the Regulation). This legislative act effectively mandates migration to and in the euro area by 1 February 2014. As communicated in June 2012, the therefore decided to postpone the effective date for the and Rulebook versions published in November 2012, which would normally have taken effect on 16 November 2013, to 1 February 2014. This allowed market participants to adapt their systems and operations to comply with both the Regulation and the updated versions of the rulebooks. To avoid duplication of costs and efforts within one year and to provide planning security to all stakeholders based on stable rulebook versions in the period following migration to and in the euro area, the decided in December 2012 to postpone publication of the next generation rulebooks ( Rulebook version 8.0, Core Rulebook version 8.0 and B2B Rulebook version 6.0) and associated implementation guidelines to November 2014. These rulebook versions will then take effect in November 2015.
3 The Schemes allow payers and billers to anticipate the precise date (due date), when their account will be debited or credited, respectively. The due date may be later than the date agreed between the payer and the biller if the due date is not a banking business day or in case of other exceptional circumstances.
4 The technical terms used in the Rulebooks refer to the payer as ‘debtor’ and the biller as ‘creditor’.
5 An inter-bank business day is when banks are open for business between banks. The 'Trans-European Automated Real-time Gross Settlement Express Transfer System' (TARGET) calendar is used to identify inter-bank business days. To avoid frequent changes to TARGET closing days, due to national holidays for example and thus the introduction of uncertainties into financial markets, a long-term calendar for TARGET closing days has been established and applied since 2002. This calendar is published by the European Central Bank. Settlement of funds, resulting from direct debit payments always takes place on an inter-bank business day.
6 See, for example, Newsletter (October 2011): ‘ISO 20022 Message Standards: Too Many Flavours? Domestic specifications of the data formats risk preventing market harmonisation’. By Ruth Wandhöfer, Michael Steinbach and Matthias Haberkorn.
8 Possible exceptions to the normal execution of a direct debit collection include refunds, returns, rejects, refusals and reversals, commonly referenced as ‘R-transactions’ and described in detail in the Rulebooks. On 10 July 2014, the published the document ‘Guidance on Reason Codes for R-transactions’.
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