SEPA - Single Euro Payments Area
Following the introduction of euro banknotes and coins in euro area countries in 2002, the creation of a single payments area also for non-cash payment instruments remained a big challenge. In this context, the European banking community established the European Payments Council (EPC) and so the "Single Euro Payments Area" (SEPA) project was launched.
What is SEPA
SEPA is an area in which consumers, companies and other economic actors will be able to make and receive payments in euro, whether within or across national boundaries, with the same basic conditions, rights and obligations, in 34 European countries (the 28 EU countries plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, San Marino and Monaco), including Greece. SEPA aims to create an integrated, competitive and innovative retail payment market in Europe, where non-cash euro payments will be effected entirely electronically using a single payment account and a single set of payment instruments.
SEPA has the full support of the European Commission and the Eurosystem and is being developed on the initiative of the banking sector. Banks are focusing their efforts on the development of SEPA payment instruments (credit transfers, direct debits, credit/debit cards) which ultimately replaced the corresponding national payment instruments. Besides credit institutions, SEPA implementation involves clearing systems, companies, consumers, public authorities and government agencies.