The for cards is a major achievement – to which the actively contributes – and one of the most tangible benefits of payments harmonisation across SEPA. Yet the popularity of card payments also comes with challenges for cards standardisation, such as preventing card fraud and keeping pace with new technologies like contactless payments.
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 who process the card payments on behalf of the merchant) with whom they decide to work.
Cards are Europeans’ favourite cashless method of payment: they account for more than forty percent of all cashless transactions in the euro area alone (forty-seven percent in the European Union), and in many European countries this ratio lies above sixty percent. Their use has steadily risen in recent years, with an increase of thirty-four percent between 2011 and 2015 in just the euro area.
The actively contributes to cards standardisation via the ECSG
The European Cards Stakeholders Group (ECSG) is the industry association in charge of cards standardisation in . 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 (represented by the EPC).
The ECSG focuses 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 ECSG 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 ECSG develops and maintains the Cards Standardisation Volume (the Volume). This document is key for the cards industry, as it defines guidelines for cards standardisation, interoperability and security in Europe.
This infographic provides further information about the Volume.
The latest version of the Volume (version 8.0) was published in March 2017. Stakeholders are invited to meet its requirements by March 2020 with exception of the ones related to the Interchange Fee Regulation which apply immediately. Further information is available on the ECSG website.
The ECSG was created in 2016 on the foundation of the Cards Stakeholders Group (CSG), which was managed by the . The most recent versions of the Volume jointly published by the EPC and CSG can also be found on the ECSG website.
In its latest card fraud report (2015), the European Central Bank (ECB) reported an eight percent increase in fraud among cards (for 2013). The total value of fraudulent card transactions amounted to almost 1.5 billion euros (or 0.039 percent of the total value of card transactions) – a peak in a five-year period. The type of frauds evolved: sixty-six percent of the total fraud value resulted from card-not-present (CNP) payments – namely payments made via the internet, post or phone. CNP fraud is the only type of fraud loss to record an increase from the previous year – a rise of more than twenty percent – whereas fraud at ATMs and points of sale fell.
Card fraud prevention is therefore a top priority for the . In line with best practices, the SEPA cards market recognises the EMV standard as the technology that allows payments with cards at very high levels of security. EMV is an industry standard for implementing CHIP and PIN security for card transactions.
As fraudsters keep on being increasingly creative, the established in 2017 a multi-stakeholder group, the Card Fraud Prevention Forum (CFPF), to help tackle European card fraud. Its role is to identify and support card fraud prevention best practices and tools within the card industry as well as to develop strategic initiatives to fight against card fraud. The stakeholders of the entire card value chain are expected to follow CFPF recommendations.
Easy, fast, convenient, innovative – contactless card payments are booming in Europe. Eager to develop innovative methods of card payments, the contributes to the ECSG’s work in this area. It was also involved in the creation of the report on mobile and card-based proximity payments published at the end of 2015 by the Euro Retail Payments Board, and in the production of a leaflet about the benefits of contactless payments for consumers.