Europe launches SEPA Direct Debit Scheme

Europe launches SEPA Direct Debit Scheme

Europe launches SEPA Direct Debit SchemeThe European Payments Council (EPC), the coordination and decision-making body of the European banking industry in relation to payments, launches the SEPA Core Direct Debit Scheme and the SEPA Business to Business Direct Debit Scheme on 2nd November 2009.

Banks throughout the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) are now gradually starting to deliver SEPA Direct Debit services to their customers. All branches of banks in the euro area must be reachable for SEPA Core Direct Debit by 1st November 2010 as mandated by the EU Regulation on cross-border payments in the Community.

The EPC confirms a successful kick-off: to-date 2607 banks representing about seventy per cent of SEPA payment volumes have signed up to the new schemes and are ready to roll-out SEPA Direct Debit services from 2nd November 2009 onwards. Of those, 2366 banks are offering both SDD Core and SDD B2B services.

SEPA Direct Debit services enable customers – for the first time ever – to make and receive both domestic and cross-border euro direct debit payments throughout the 32 SEPA countries, i.e. the 27 EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Monaco. The direct debit is a major payment instrument widely used in many euro area countries.

SEPA offers significant benefits for bank customers. The implementation of innovative and competitive SEPA payment services based on global ISO standards translates into efficiency gains for businesses and public administrations, while consumers can rely on a single set of euro payment instruments covering 32 countries: one bank account, one bank card, one SEPA Credit Transfer, one SEPA Direct Debit.

The impact of SEPA, however, transcends monetary policy and payments services. The European Commission expects the legal and technical SEPA harmonisation exercise to facilitate the dematerialisation of business processes by replacing paper-based procedures with standardised electronic solutions such as e-invoicing.

The introduction of the SEPA Direct Debit Schemes requires a uniform EU-wide legal framework for payments; the launch date of the SDD schemes therefore aligns with the 1st November 2009 deadline for EU Member States to transpose the Payment Services Directive (PSD) into national law.

The EPC recognises the value of setting a deadline for migration to SEPA services. An end date for phasing out legacy euro payment instruments creates awareness, ensures planning security for all market participants and confirms the commitment to making SEPA a reality. Mandating an EU-wide end date would require EU regulation

To explain how the changes will help you is Gerard Hartsink, chair of the European Payments Council in this explanatory video.

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