The European Commission (EC) and the European Central Bank (ECB) have welcomed a document published by the European Payments Council (EPC) that clarifies key aspects of compliance with the single euro payments area (SEPA) cards framework (SCF) for payment card schemes and banks, as well as the conditions for geographical coverage of card schemes within the SEPA. This should facilitate the transition from the existing fragmented and monopolistic national payments markets towards a competitive, SEPA-wide, payment cards market where economies of scale and increased competition can drive efficiency and innovation to the benefit of European consumers and companies. The EC and the ECB are satisfied by EPC’s confirmation that – in the context of geographical coverage – the concept of compliance to the SCF only requires that cards be technically and commercially capable of being accepted everywhere in the SEPA territory. Therefore, any scheme, even an efficient national scheme, will be able to become SCF compliant, provided that – among other requirements – it is technically and commercially capable of admitting banks from other SEPA countries. SEPA will thus allow many – possibly national and regional – schemes to develop into ‘SCF compliant’ schemes, introducing and increasing competition between schemes to the benefit of consumers and merchants.
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