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EPC contribution to a SEPA for cards

When citizens travel in Europe or shop online on websites based in other European countries, they should be able to withdraw cash or pay by card as easily as they do in their home country.

SEPA Cards

The SEPA for cards is a major objective – to which the EPC actively contributes – and will be one of the most tangible benefits of payments harmonisation across SEPA.

Wider card acceptance is not only beneficial to consumers; retailers also take advantage of increased business opportunities, as it is easy for customers to pay by card. Furthermore, common rules for cards in SEPA increase competition, thereby giving retailers a broader choice both in the card brands they accept and in the acquirers (the payment service providers or PSPs who process the card payments on behalf of the merchant) with whom they decide to work.

Cards are the most widely used electronic payment instrument in the European Union: they account for 49% in 2021 of all cashless transactions (sources: ECB’s Payments statistics: 2021, July 2022). 

The EPC has organised its involvement in SEPA for cards and more generally in card domain by the creation of the Cards Working Group (CWG). The CWG is an EPC permanent body, working under the control of the Board and is responsible for preparing the contributions and positions of the EPC in the Cards domain.

The EPC actively contributes to cards standardisation in Europe via the EPSG

The European Payments Stakeholders Group (EPSG) is the industry association in charge of cards standardisation in SEPA. The EPSG (formerly known as ECSG) was created in 2016 on the foundation of the Cards Stakeholders Group (CSG), which was managed by the EPC. The ECSG recently decided to expand its scope from cards only to any regulated retail payment instruments in SEPA and changed its name to become European Payments Stakeholders Group. The EPSG is currently assessing the options for implementing its new scope to cover other payment instruments, including instant payments.

The EPC is an active member of this association, which is formed by representatives of five sectors of the card payments value chain: retailers/wholesale; vendors (card, payment devices, related IT systems); processors of card transactions; card schemes and PSPs (represented by the EPC). 

In relation with card payments, the EPSG has been focusing on a cards standardisation programme that will create a better, safer, more cost efficient and functionally richer card services environment. The initiative aims to remove technical obstacles that prevent a consistent customer payment card experience across SEPA. The EPSG encourages process efficiency throughout the card supply chain and, last but not least, adherence to the highest level of card payment security. 

To help achieve cards standardisation, the EPSG develops and maintains the SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume (the Volume). This document is highly relevant for the cards industry, as it defines guidelines for cards standardisation, interoperability and security in Europe. 

The latest version of the Volume (version 10.0) was published in October 2022. Further information is available on the EPSG website.

The EPC is involved in supporting worldwide interoperability and acceptance of secure card payment transactions via the EMVCo

EMVCo is the global technical body that facilitates worldwide interoperability and acceptance of secure card payment transactions.  It accomplishes this by managing and evolving the EMV® Specifications and related testing processes.

The EPC – as a business associate organisation member of the EMVCo - has been maintaining a strong relationship with EMVCo for a number of years, having a seat in the EMVCo Board of Advisors (BoA),

with the purpose of actively contributing to the work of the EMVCo as well as understanding the ongoing activities and decisions of the organisation as early as possible.
Furthermore, EMVCo is represented as an Observer organisation in the Cards Working Group (CWG).

The EPC is involved in promoting worldwide card security standards via PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC)

The PCI SSC is a global forum for the ongoing development, enhancement, storage, dissemination and implementation of security standards for card account data protection.

The EPC is a participating organisation in the PCI SSC and is represented at the level of the Board of Advisors.  The Board of Advisors represents PCI SSC Participating Organizations worldwide to ensure global industry involvement in the development of PCI Security Standards. As strategic partners, board members bring industry, geographical and technical insight to PCI SSC plans and projects.