The SEPA Schemes
The SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) Scheme was launched on 28 January 2008. The SCT Scheme enables payment service providers to offer a basic credit transfer service in euros throughout SEPA whether for single or bulk payments.
The SCT scheme offers benefits to payers and payees in terms of functionality, cost efficiency, ease of use and processing. A customer involved in a SEPA Credit Transfer can only be charged by their own payment service provider, so there is certainty over the amount that will be sent or received. Furthermore, there is an agreed timeframe for delivering SCTs, meaning customers know when money will be debited or credited to or from their account.
For more information on the SEPA Credit Transfer Scheme, see the EPC document SEPA Credit Transfer Scheme.
For a definitive source of information regarding the rules of the Scheme, please refer to the SCT Scheme rulebook and implementation guidelines, which can be found on the European Payments Council website.
The SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) Core Scheme went live on 2 November 2009 and created the first payment instrument that can be used for both domestic and cross-border collections in euros throughout the 32 SEPA countries. SDDs work the same way as national Direct Debits. Person A requests money from Person B with their prior approval, and then credits it to themselves.
The SDD Core Scheme may be used for single (one-off) or recurrent direct debit collections and the amounts are not limited.
For more information on the SEPA Direct Debit Core Scheme, see the EPC documents: SEPA Direct Debit Schemes.
For a definitive source of information regarding the rules of the Scheme, please refer to the SDD Core Scheme rulebook and implementation guidelines, which can be found on the European Payments Council website.
The SEPA Direct Debit Business to Business (B2B) Scheme is very similar to the Core SDD Scheme. However, the SDD B2B Scheme enables business customers in the role of payers to make payments by direct debit. The most important differences between the SDD Core Scheme and the SDD B2B Scheme are:
The services and products are only available to business customers.
The payer (a business) is not entitled to obtain a refund of an authorised transaction.
The B2B Scheme offers a significantly shorter timeline for presenting direct debits and a reduced return period.
For more information on the SEPA Direct Debit B2B Scheme, see the SEPA Direct Debit Schemes.
For a definitive source of information regarding the rules of the Scheme, refer to the SDD B2B Scheme Rulebook and implementation guidelines, which can be found on the European Payments Council website.
Information for payment service providers regarding adherence to these schemes can be found here
The “Regulation establishing technical requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro and amending Regulation (EC) No 924/2009” (henceforth referred to as the SEPA Regulation) was passed by the European Parliament and Council in early 2012 and was published in the EU Official Journal on 30 March 2012.
The Regulation “lays down rules for credit transfer and direct debit transactions denominated in euro within the Union where both the payer’s payment service provider (hereinafter: "PSP") and the payee’s PSP are located in the Union, or where the sole PSP in the payment transaction is located in the Union”.
The SEPA Regulation requires PSPs currently reachable for national euro credit transfers or direct debits to be reachable “in accordance with the rules of a Union-wide payment scheme” - with immediate effect (euro Member States) or by 31 October 2016 (non-euro Member States). At present, the European Payments Council’s (EPC) SEPA Schemes are the only schemes to be Union-wide. Therefore, in effect, from the end-dates existing national euro credit transfer and direct debit schemes will have to be replaced by the SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) and SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) Schemes (the UK's Sterling direct debit scheme is not affected).
More information on the SEPA Regulation can be found here
The SEPA Cards Framework (SCF)
The SCF was launched in January 2008 at the same time as the SCT Scheme. The framework ensures that plastic cards are accepted in more places throughout the Eurozone.
In co-operation with other stakeholders, the EPC is also carrying out a cards standardisation programme designed to remove any technical obstacles preventing a consistent customer experience throughout SEPA.
To learn more about the SEPA Cards Framework, see the EPC document Shortcut to SEPA Cards Framework