The objective of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is to implement schemes and standards for euro payments in the future. For reasons of efficiency, it is not practical to have national schemes and the SEPA scheme operating in parallel over the long term. This is also consistent with the long-term aim of SEPA, namely to abolish existing national payment schemes.
In a bid to build on the achievements of the German SEPA Council, which helped coordinate the recent transition to SEPA, the Bundesbank has now set up the Payments forum - a platform that facilitates dialogue among providers and users of payment services on impending innovations, the design of SEPA 2.0 for digital payment methods and potential areas of conflict.
On account of the differences in the legal frameworks and the various domestic direct debit procedures which exist, the EPC decided at an early stage to develop a completely new SEPA Direct Debit Scheme (SDD). However, implementation of this scheme was only possible once a common framework had been developed within the European Union.
SEPA credit transfers have been available for processing both domestic and cross-border European payments since 28 January 2008. In order to use this procedure, a payment service provider must first sign the corresponding European Payments Council (EPC) adherence agreement and convert its systems to process SEPA payments.
The SEPA Cards Framework; SCF defines the standards to be met by payment service providers, card systems and other market participants in order for card payments and cash withdrawals within the Single Euro Payments Area to be processed as quickly, safely and efficiently as they are in the home country