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The SINGLE EURO PAYMENTS AREA (SEPA) is a payment-integration initiative of the European Union
European Union
for simplification of bank transfers denominated in euro . As of July 2015 , SEPA consists of the 28 member states of the European Union
European Union
, the four member states of the European Free Trade Association ( Iceland
Iceland
, Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein
, Norway
Norway
and Switzerland
Switzerland
), Monaco
Monaco
and San Marino
San Marino
.

CONTENTS

* 1 Goals

* 2 Overview

* 2.1 Schemes

* 2.1.1 Credit Transfer * 2.1.2 Instant credit transfer * 2.1.3 Direct debit

* 3 Coverage * 4 Charges * 5 Key dates * 6 Uptake * 7 See also * 8 References * 9 External links

GOALS

The project's aim is to improve the efficiency of cross-border payments and turn the fragmented national markets for euro payments into a single domestic one. SEPA will enable customers to make cashless euro payments to anyone located anywhere in the area, using a single bank account and a single set of payment instruments. People who have a bank account in a eurozone country, will be able to use it to receive salaries and make payments all over the eurozone, for example when they take a job in a new country.

The project includes the development of common financial instruments , standards, procedures, and infrastructure to enable economies of scale . This should, in turn, reduce the overall cost to the European economy of moving capital around the region (estimated as two to three percent of total GDP).

OVERVIEW

There are two milestones in the establishment of SEPA:

* Pan-European payment instruments for credit transfers began on 28 January 2008; direct debits and debit cards became available later * By the end of 2010, all present national payment infrastructures and payment processors were expected to be in full competition to increase efficiency through consolidation and economies of scale

For direct debits, the first milestone was missed due to a delay in the implementation of enabling legislation (the Payment Services Directive or PSD) in the European Parliament
European Parliament
. Direct debits became available in November 2009, which put time pressure on the second milestone.

The European Commission
European Commission
has established the legal foundation through the PSD. The commercial and technical frameworks for payment instruments were developed by the European Payments Council (EPC), made up of European banks. The EPC is committed to delivering three pan-European payment instruments:

* Credit transfers: SCT – SEPA Credit Transfer * Direct debits: SDD – SEPA Direct Debit. Banks began offering this service on 2 November 2009. * Cards: SEPA Cards Framework

To provide end-to-end straight through processing (STP) for SEPA-clearing, the EPC committed to delivering technical validation subsets of ISO 20022 . Whereas bank-to-bank messages (pacs) are mandatory for use, customer-to-bank Payment Initialization (PAIN) message types are not; however, they are strongly recommended. Because there is room for interpretation, it is expected that several PAIN specifications will be published in SEPA countries.

Businesses, merchants, consumers and governments are also interested in the development of SEPA. The European Associations of Corporate Treasurers (EACT), TWIST , the European Central Bank
European Central Bank
, the European Commission , the European Payments Council , the European Automated Clearing House Association (EACHA), payments processors and pan-European banking associations – European Banking Federation (EBF), European Association of Co-operative Banks (EACB) and the European Savings Banks Group (ESBG) – are playing an active role in defining the services which SEPA will deliver.

Since January 2008, banks have been switching customers to the new payment instruments. By 2010, the majority were expected to be on the SEPA framework. As a result, banks throughout the SEPA area (not just the Eurozone
Eurozone
) need to invest in technology with the capacity to support SEPA payment instruments.

SEPA clearance is based on the IBAN bank-account identification and the SWIFT-BIC bank identifier. Domestic euro transactions are routed by IBAN; earlier national-designation schemes were abolished by February 2014, providing uniform access to the new payment instruments. Since February 2016 Eurozone
Eurozone
consumers must drop BIC sorting information for SEPA transactions, it is derived from the IBAN for all banks in the SEPA area.

An instant 24/7/365 payment scheme named SCT Inst is scheduled to be implemented by November 2017. This will allow real time payments 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. The participating banks will handle the user interface and security, like for existing SEPA payments, e.g. web sites and mobile apps.

SEPA covers predominantly normal bank transfers. Payment methods which have additional optional features or services, such as mobile phone or smart card payment systems, are not directly covered. However, the upcoming instant SEPA payment scheme will facilitate future payment products also on smart devices.

SCHEMES

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The different functionalities provided for by SEPA are divided into separate payment schemes, detailed below.

Credit Transfer

Credit transfer (SCT) allows for the transfer of funds from one bank account to another. SEPA clearing rules require that payments made before the cutoff point on a working day, be credited to the recipients account within 1 working day.

Instant Credit Transfer

Instant credit transfer (SCT Inst), when launched, will provide for instant crediting of a payees (less than 10 seconds, initially, with a maximum of 20 seconds in exceptional circumstances).

Direct Debit

Direct debit functionality is provided by two separate schemes. The basic scheme, Core SDD, was launched on 2 November 2009 , and is primarily targeted at consumers. Participation by banks offering SEPA payments is compulsory. In addition, there is a second scheme, B2B SDD, targeted towards business users. It requires a mandate be submitted to the bank by both the creditor and debtor. Among other differences, it does not allow the debtor to request a refund from its bank after its account has been debited. Participation in the scheme is optional.

COVERAGE

SEPA consists of 34 countries:

* The 28 member states of the European Union
European Union
, including

* the 19 states that are in the Eurozone
Eurozone
:

* Austria
Austria
, Belgium
Belgium
, Cyprus
Cyprus
, Estonia
Estonia
, Finland
Finland
, France
France
, Germany , Greece
Greece
, Ireland
Ireland
, Italy
Italy
, Latvia
Latvia
, Lithuania
Lithuania
, Luxembourg
Luxembourg
, Malta
Malta
, Netherlands
Netherlands
, Portugal
Portugal
, Slovakia
Slovakia
, Slovenia
Slovenia
, Spain
Spain

* the nine states that are not in the Eurozone:

* Bulgaria
Bulgaria
, Croatia
Croatia
, the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
, Denmark
Denmark
, Hungary
Hungary
, Poland
Poland
, Romania
Romania
, Sweden
Sweden
, United Kingdom
United Kingdom
.

* The three states having signed the European Economic Area agreement:

* Iceland
Iceland
, Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein
, Norway
Norway
.

* A few other countries with agreements with the EU:

* Monaco
Monaco
, San Marino
San Marino
, Switzerland
Switzerland
.

All parts of a country are normally part of SEPA. However, the following countries have special territories which are not part of SEPA:

* Cyprus: Northern Cyprus
Cyprus
is excluded. * Denmark: the Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
and Greenland
Greenland
are excluded. * France: the French Southern and Antarctic Lands
French Southern and Antarctic Lands
, French Polynesia , New Caledonia
New Caledonia
and Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna
are excluded. Nevertheless, the 3 last are part of SEPA COM Pacifique. * Netherlands: Aruba
Aruba
, the Caribbean Netherlands
Netherlands
, Curaçao
Curaçao
and Sint Maarten are excluded. * Norway: Svalbard
Svalbard
and Jan Mayen
Jan Mayen
are excluded. * United Kingdom: The British Overseas Territories
British Overseas Territories
are excluded, but Gibraltar
Gibraltar
and the Crown dependencies
Crown dependencies
are included.

Jurisdictions using the euro that are not included: Akrotiri and Dhekelia , Kosovo
Kosovo
, Montenegro
Montenegro
, Andorra and Vatican City
Vatican City
.

CHARGES

SEPA guarantees that euro payments are received within a guaranteed time, and banks are not allowed to make any deductions of the amount transferred, introduced by a regulation in year 2001. Banks and payment institutions still have the option of charging a credit-transfer fee of their choice for euro transfers if it is charged uniformly to all EEA participants, banks or payment institutions, domestic or foreign. This is relevant for countries which do not use the euro; domestic transfers in euro by consumers are uncommon, and inflated fees might be charged. Sweden
Sweden
and Denmark
Denmark
have legislated that euro transfers shall be charged the same as transfers in their own currency; which has the effect of giving free euro ATM withdrawals, but charges for ATM withdrawals in other currencies used in the EU.

In Regulation (EC) 924/2009, the European Parliament
European Parliament
mandated that charges in respect of cross-border payments in euro (of up to EUR 50,000) to other Member States shall be the same as the charges for corresponding national payments. However, the EU Regulation does not apply to all SEPA countries; the most significant difference is the inclusion of Switzerland
Switzerland
in SEPA but not the EU. The rule of the same price applies, even if the transaction is sent as an international transaction instead of a SEPA transaction (common before 2008, or if any involved bank does not support SEPA transactions). The regulation 924/2009 does not regulate charges for currency conversion so charges for non-euro transactions can still be applied (if not banned by national law).

KEY DATES

1957 Treaty of Rome
Treaty of Rome
creates the European Community
European Community

1992 Maastricht Treaty
Maastricht Treaty
creates the euro

1999 Introduction of the euro as an electronic currency, including introduction of the RTGS system TARGET
TARGET
for large-value transfers

2000 Lisbon Strategy
Lisbon Strategy
: Meeting creates European Financial Services Action Plan

2001 EC Regulation 2560/2001 harmonises fees for cross-border and domestic euro transactions

2002 Introduction of Euro
Euro
banknotes and coins

2003 First pan-European ACH (PE-ACH) goes live; EC Regulation 2560/2001 comes into force for transactions up to €12,500

2006 EC Regulation 2560 cap increases euro transactions up to €50,000

2008 SEPA pan-European payment instruments become operational (parallel to domestic instruments) on 28 January

2009 Payment Services Directive (PSD) enacted in national laws by November

2010 SEPA payments become dominant form of electronic payments

2011 SEPA payments replace national payments in the Eurozone
Eurozone

2014 1 August: Single Euro
Euro
Payments Area (SEPA) becomes fully operational in all Eurozone
Eurozone
countries.

2016 Since 31 October 2016, payment service providers in non-euro countries are only able to collect euro-denominated payments using SEPA procedures. Non- Euro
Euro
schemes, such as UK Direct Debit, will continue without change.

2017 Starting 21 November 2017, instant SEPA payments of up to 15,000 euros within 10 seconds. (optional participation for PSPs)

UPTAKE

As of August 2014, 99.4% of credit transfers, 99.9% of direct debit and 79.2% of card payments have been migrated to SEPA in the euro area.

The official progress report was published in March 2013.

In October 2010, the European Central Bank
European Central Bank
published its seventh progress report on SEPA. The European Central Bank
European Central Bank
regards SEPA as an essential element to advance the usability and maturity of the euro.

SEE ALSO

* EU law
EU law
* Payment Services Directive * European Payments Union * ISO 11649 * ISO 20022 * Giro

REFERENCES

* ^ A B "5. Report for Selected Countries and Subjects". International Monetary Fund. 17 June 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2013. * ^ "Human Development Report 2013" (PDF). UN. 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2013. * ^ A B List of SEPA Scheme Countries * ^ "Solution: SEPA, the single euro payments area". European Central Bank. Archived from the original on 20 March 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008. * ^ "Agreement reached on cross-border banking". RTÉ News. 27 March 2007. Retrieved 28 January 2008. * ^ "Joint statement by the European Commission
European Commission
and the European Central Bank welcoming the European Parliament\'s adoption of the Payment Services Directive". Europa (web portal) (Press release). European Union. 24 April 2007. Archived from the original on 19 May 2011. Retrieved 26 April 2011. * ^ A B EUROPA – Press Releases – Single Euro
Euro
Payments Area (SEPA): cross-border direct debits now a reality EUROPA (European Union), 3 November 2009; Retrieved 4 February 2011 * ^ "Instant payments". Euro
Euro
Retail Payments Board (ERPB). * ^ REGULATION (EU) No 260/2012 (article 1 point 3) * ^ "Instant payments (section "For consumers")". Euro
Euro
Retail Payments Board (ERPB). * ^ https://www.ebaclearing.eu/services/instant-payments/introduction/ * ^ A