EPC Launches Annual Public Consultation on SEPA Schemes

The European Payments Council (EPC) has launched the annual public consultation on possible modifications to the single euro payments area (SEPA) Credit Transfer (SCT) and SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) scheme rulebooks. The EPC encourages all SEPA stakeholders to provide feedback by 20 August 2011. Updated versions of the SCT and SDD rulebooks will be published in November 2011 and take effect in November 2012.

Going forward, the European Commission [EC] seeks broad executive powers to determine payment functionalities. This is set out in the EC’s proposal for a SEPA regulation expected to set definitive deadlines for migration to harmonised SEPA payment schemes. The EPC stresses that any future changes to the SEPA schemes mandated by the EC should be based on adequate market consultation and reflect broad consensus among all stakeholders.

The SEPA payment schemes as defined in the SCT and SDD rulebooks developed by the EPC – at the request of European authorities – are key elements necessary to create SEPA. The rulebooks contain sets of rules and standards for the execution of SEPA payment transactions that have to be implemented by payment service providers (PSPs). These rulebooks can be regarded as instruction manuals that provide a common understanding on how to move funds between bank accounts within SEPA. The rules and standards that make up a SEPA payment scheme are defined by PSPs in the cooperative environment that is the EPC. The development of payment schemes through self-regulation by PSPs in close dialogue with customers represents the established approach in all national banking communities and in SEPA.

The SCT and SDD schemes will evolve over time to reflect changes in market needs and updates in standards. The annual EPC scheme change management process provides all stakeholders with the opportunity to introduce suggestions for changes to the SEPA Schemes. Proposed amends to the schemes are subject to a three-month public consultation. Recommendations that find broad acceptance from the entire user community are taken forward, while requests that lack support are not. The EPC approves updated versions of the SCT and SDD rulebooks in September 2011.

Publication of the updated rulebooks follows a predictable rulebook release schedule. In accordance with industry best practice, all stakeholders and their suppliers have a one year lead time to address rulebook updates prior to such updates taking effect. The EPC publishes updated versions of the rulebooks in November 2011, which take effect in the third week of November 2012.


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