The free online EPC Newsletter, published quarterly by the European Payments Council, is a leading source covering latest developments in the Single Euro Payments Area – SEPA. The January 2012 edition focuses on the impact of upcoming regulatory interventions, at a European level, on the further integration of the euro payments market.
In February 2012, the European Parliament will adopt the ‘Regulation Establishing Technical Requirements for Credit Transfers and Direct Debits in Euros’, which is commonly referenced as ‘the SEPA Regulation’. This Regulation will define the 1st of February 2014 as the deadline in the euro area for compliance with the core provisions of this Regulation. Effectively, this means that as of this date, existing national euro credit transfer and direct debit schemes will have to be replaced by harmonised SEPA payment schemes. With this legislative act, the European lawmaker forcefully reiterates that SEPA is a policy-maker driven EU integration initiative.
Gerard Hartsink, Chairman of the European Payments Council, outlines the main provisions to be introduced with the SEPA Regulation. In conclusion, Hartsink calls again on the European authorities to refrain from stating that SEPA would be a “self-regulatory project run by the banking sector”. This claim was erroneous in the past and is untenable today. The European Payments Council has not been responsible for the overall management of the SEPA programme at any stage of the process. At this point, the European Payments Council has no choice but to recognise that the expertise of the banking industry, with regard to the evolution of the SEPA payment schemes – the original scope of the European Payments Council – may come second to the requirements defined by the regulator. Moving forward, the SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit Schemes will need to be adapted as mandated by the European Commission.
The SEPA Regulation will give power to the European Commission to amend the technical requirements applicable to SEPA payment schemes through so-called ‘delegated acts’. We examine the procedure to be followed by the European Commission for determining and amending these requirements.
By 1 November 2012, the European Commission will present a report on the implementation and impact of the Payment Services Directive, together with proposals for its revision. Our analyst provides an overview of possible amendments to the Payment Services Directive as a result of the review process.
This edition of the EPC Newsletter also reflects on recent contributions from the European Commission Directorate General Competition to the innovation in payments debate. Our commentator raises the following questions: has the Directorate General Competition expanded its scope to define industrial policies? Will the Directorate General Competition use its substantial powers, ex post, to impose its vision of how an integrated and innovative market should look like, i.e. enforce policies instead of the law? How can perceptions of policymakers and payment experts on the principles applicable to moving funds from account A to account B be aligned? It is hoped that this commentary will contribute towards developing a fact-based and forward-looking discussion.
In addition, we report on updates introduced into version 6.0 of the SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume – Book of Requirements, which was published in January 2012 following a public consultation in 2011. This document defines a standard set of requirements to ensure a secure, interoperable and scalable card and terminal infrastructure across SEPA.
We also highlight the release of the second edition of the European Payments Council’s ‘White Paper on Mobile Payments’ for public consultation. The latest version was enhanced to include, among other things, an analysis of the mobile remote payments ecosystem and describes mobile wallets at a high level.
Readers are invited to take advantage of our series featuring the SEPA implementation experience of bank customers: this issue shares lessons learnt by Deutsche Post Pension Service, which currently processes 22.5 million SEPA payments monthly.
For more information on the latest SEPA developments please listen to the recording of a recently broadcast press conference hosted by the European Payments Council. The newsletter and the webcast are available on the European Payments Council Website at www.epc-cep.
European Payments Council Newsletter Comments on Latest Developments in the Single Euro Payments Area