The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is a European-wide initiative to standardise the way retail electronic payments are made and processed in euro. Using SEPA, payments throughout Europe can be as fast, safe and efficient as when using national payment systems. SEPA enables customers to make payments (Direct Debits, Credit Transfers) to anyone located within the SEPA zone. The jurisdictional scope of the SEPA schemes currently consists of the 28 EU Member States plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Monaco and San Marino.
Key points regarding SEPA
- SEPA replaced national retail payments systems with a single set of SEPA standards and payments schemes
- Organisations and individuals can make payments to anyone within the area through their existing bank account using standardised payment instruments
- SEPA applies to electronic non-urgent euro payments only, cheques and cash, are not affected
- In SEPA a customer can make electronic payments to any beneficiary located anywhere in the euro area using a single bank account and a single set of payment instructions. This means that making a payment from Dublin to Dusseldorf will cost the same as from Dublin to Dingle and will be processed within the same timeframe.
- SEPA payments are next day value payments.
Further information on the SEPA is available from the European Payments Council.
SEPA Legal Framework
In December 2007, the regulatory initiative tasked to standardise payment services within the European Union known as the Payment Services Directive (PSD) was officially published. This Directive ensures that the same legal framework applies to all payments made within Europe whereby businesses and consumers can make payments as easily, cost-effectively, efficiently and securely as national payments within a Member State. The PSD also seeks to improve competition by opening up payment markets to new entrants. The PSD established the necessary legal framework for SEPA.
Download a copy of the Payment Services Directive here.
In 2009, the PSD was transposed into legislation in Ireland. In 2012, EC Regulation No 260/2012 (known as the SEPA Regulation) detailing the technical and business requirements for SEPA Credit Transfers and SEPA Direct Debits was published. The SEPA Regulation mandated that credit transfers and direct debits should be implemented as stated in the requirements by 1 February 2014.
Download a copy of the SEPA Regulation here.