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SEPA

SEPA
The SEPA development framework
SEPA payment schemes
SEPA card payments
Standards
SEPA in Greece today

SEPA

Since the introduction of euro banknotes and coins on 1 January 2002, cash payments are carried out using the single currency across the euro area with the same ease and convenience. Thereafter, the creation of a single payments area for cashless payment instruments remained a big challenge. Against this background, the “Single Euro Payments Area” (SEPA) project was launched.

SEPA is the area where consumers, companies and public authorities are able to make and receive electronic payments in euro under the same basic conditions and with the same rights and obligations.

SEPA has created an integrated, competitive and innovative retail payments market area for all cashless euro payments where the latter are conducted entirely electronically, via a single payment account and a single set of payment instruments, in a fast, secure and efficient manner.

SEPA covers 34 European countries: the 28 Member States of the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland.



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The SEPA development framework

SEPA is fully supported by the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the Eurosystem, and is being developed on the initiative of the banking industry.

Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro and amending Regulation (EC) No 924/2009 (hereinafter “Regulation (EU) No 260/2012”) established, among other things, the following end-dates for migration to the SEPA EU-wide payment schemes:

• 1 February 2014 for credit transfers and direct debits in the euro area (31 October 2016 in non-euro area countries)
• 1 February 2016 for any exceptions or waivers provided for in the Regulation

Nevertheless, Regulation (EU) No 248/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 amending Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 as regards the migration to Union-wide credit transfers and direct debits extended the final migration deadline to 1 August 2014.

Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 specifies that all payment accounts held by payment service providers (PSPs) which are reachable for national credit transfers and direct debits shall also be reachable via EU-wide payment schemes for cross-border credit transfers and direct debits. It also establishes uniform technical requirements on PSPs and the retail payment systems involved, across all SEPA countries. Reachability of accounts and interoperability of PSPs and retail payment systems form the foundation for payments within SEPA.

The following constitute PSPs within SEPA schemes:

• credit institutions
• electronic money institutions
• post office giro institutions which are entitled under national law to provide payment services
• payment institutions
• the European Central Bank and national central banks when not acting in their capacity as monetary authority or other public authorities
• the Greek State and the other EU Member States, or their regional or local authorities when not acting in their capacity as public authorities



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SEPA payment schemes

The European banking community has set up the European Payments Council (EPC), which is responsible for the management and development of payment schemes. The SEPA payment schemes are the following:

• SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT)
• SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCTInst)
• SEPA Direct Debit Core (SDD Core) and
• SEPA Direct Debit Business-to-Business (SDD B2B).

A credit transfer is a national or cross-border payment service for crediting a payee’s payment account with a payment transaction or a series of payment transactions from a payer’s payment account by the PSP which holds the payer’s payment account, based on an instruction given by the payer.

SCT

The SCT scheme defines a common set of rules and procedures (single rulebook) for credit transfers denominated in euro. Its main features are the following:


 

  • The maximum amount per SCT instruction is €999,999,999.99
  • The full instructed amount is transferred from the payer’s payment account to the payee’s payment account
  • The payer and the payee are each subject to the fees charged by their respective PSPs
  • ΙΒΑΝs are used as payment account identifiers
  • Single and bulk SCT instructions are supported, whether one-off or recurring
  • The maximum settlement time shall not exceed one business day
  • There is a comprehensive set of rules for the rejection and refund of payments
  • 140-character remittance information data field on a structured or unstructured (free text) basis
  • Full reachability of all payees’ accounts within SEPA
  • The SCT scheme is completely separated from the clearing and settlement infrastructure


 

SCTInst

The SCTInst scheme became operational on 21 November 2017. Its main features are the following:


 

  • The maximum amount per SCTInst transaction is €15,000.
  • SCTInst instruments are available on a 24/7/365 basis
  • The full original amount is transferred from the payer’s payment account to the payee’s payment account
  • A target maximum execution time of 10 seconds to process a SCTInst transaction, with the payee’s bank reporting back to the payer’s bank the availability of the funds to the payee or the rejection of the transaction
  • The payer and the payee are each subject to the fees charged by their respective PSPs
  • ΙΒΑΝs are used as payment account identifiers
  • There is a comprehensive set of rules for rejected payments
  • 140-character remittance information data field on a structured or unstructured (free text) basis
  • Full reachability of all payees’ accounts within SEPA
  • The SCTInst scheme is completely separated from the clearing and settlement infrastructure

 
A direct debit is a national or cross-border payment service for debiting a payer’s payment account, where a payment transaction is initiated by the payee with the payer’s consent. The payer typically signs and sends to the payee a pre-authorisation (“mandate”), either in paper or electronic format, that authorises the payee to collect the funds directly from the payer’s payment account. The SDD Core scheme is suited for consumers and is often used for recurring payments, such as utility bills. The SDD B2B scheme is offered exclusively to businesses and is mostly used for the automatic collection of invoices. Under both schemes, the payee must keep a record of all mandates received.



Under Regulation (EU) No 260/2012, PSPs offering euro credit transfer and direct debit services must adhere to the SCT and SDD Core schemes and to be included in the EPC’s respective Register of Participants. Adherence to the SCTInst and SDD B2B schemes remains voluntary.

SDD Core and

SDD B2B

The SDD Core and SDD B2B schemes establish a common set of rules and procedures for direct debits denominated in euro. Their main features are the following:


 

  • The maximum amount per SDD order is €999,999,999.99
  • The full original amount is credited from the payer’s payment account to the payee’s payment account
  • The payer and the payee are each subject to the fees charged by their respective PSPs
  • ΙΒΑΝs are used as payment account identifiers
  • Full reachability of all payers’ accounts within SEPA
  • There is a comprehensive set of rules for the rejection and refund of payments
  • Under the SDD Core scheme, an unconditional refund right on a no-questions-asked basis is granted to payers within eight weeks following the debiting date for authorised transactions and within 13 months for unauthorised transactions




SEPA fees

National Law 3862/2010, Article 4(23) defines as payment instrument any personalised device(s) and/or set of procedures agreed between the payment service user (PSU) and the payment service provider (PSP), which the PSU uses for initiating a payment order. PSPs that participate in SEPA payment schemes are able to provide their customers with payment instruments that comply with the specifications and rules of the respective schemes. SEPA payment schemes clearly stipulate that the payer and the payee are each charged fees by their respective PSP. These fees may vary among PSPs, according to each PSP’s business plan and pricing policy, also taking into account the capacity of the user (consumer or business), the number of payment orders, and the initiation channel of the payment order (e.g. physical branch, internet or mobile). It should be noted, however, that according to Regulation (EC) No 924/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 on cross-border payments in the Community and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2560/2001 (as amended by Regulation (ΕU) 260/2012) charges levied by a PSP on a PSU in respect of cross-border payments shall be the same as the charges levied by that PSP on a PSU for corresponding national payments of the same value and in the same currency.


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SEPA card payments

Cardholders and merchants will be able to make and receive card payments throughout SEPA in a common and consistent manner. In brief, the European Cards Stakeholders Group (ECSG) focuses on a standardisation programme that will create a better, safer, more cost-efficient and functionally richer card services environment. As of 1 January 2011, SEPA cards support EMV-chip technology, while all innovative methods of card payments should comply with a set of requirements.



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Standards

In the SEPA environment, international standards are required to ensure full automation of the payment process. This is referred to as “straight-through processing” (STP), which means that no manual intervention is needed.

IBAN
The International Bank Account Number (IBAN) is the payment account identifier in SEPA, and is created according to the international standard ISO 13616. In order for a SEPA payment to be effected, the payer must provide his/her PSP with the payee’s ΙΒΑΝ. Even for payments between accounts held within the same PSP, the ΙΒΑΝ is exclusively required.


 


 

 In Greece, the ΙΒΑΝ is composed of 27 alphanumerical characters, with the following structure:

 


 


BIC
The Business Identifier Code (BIC) is the PSP identifier in SEPA, and is calculated according to the international standard ISO 9362. The Bank of Greece’s BIC is BNGRGRAA.

 
BIC from IBAN derivation rules for Greece

Under Regulation (EU) 260/2012, as of 1 February 2016 PSUs are no longer required to indicate the BIC of the payee’s PSP for payment transactions in the form of credit transfers or direct debits, but may communicate only the IBAN of the payee to their PSPs. It should be noted that PSPs are still required to use the BIC when processing interbank payment transactions.

In view of this “IBAN only” rule and to facilitate users, a table listing the BICs of PSPs operating in Greece along with the corresponding Bank Identifiers (positions 5-7 of a Greek IBAN) can be found in the following link:

BIC-from-IBAN

The table is updated whenever a change occurs.


ISO 20022 XML

The international standard ISO20022 XML provides the format to be used for preparing and transmitting all messages that contain SEPA payment information. It is used:

• between PSPs or PSPs and retail payment system; and
• by PSUs other than consumers or microenterprises when they initiate or receive batches of credit transfers or direct debits which are not transmitted individually, but are bundled together for transmission, to and from PSPs.


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SEPA in Greece today

The Greek banking community has set up tSEPA in Greece todayhe appropriate organisational structure to ensure a timely and smooth migration to SEPA. Unlike other countries, Greece has not established a central body to coordinate migration to SEPA at the national level. Instead, it has opted for a decentralised organisational model, entailing on-going bilateral contacts between stakeholders, which has actually proved very efficient and swift.

Under Article 30 of Law 4141/2013 ”Measures for implementing Regulation (EC) 924/2009 and Regulation (EU) 260/2012”,

• the Bank of Greece is the competent authority for ensuring compliance with Articles 3, 4, 5 and 9 of Regulation (EU) 260/2012
• the General Secretariat for Consumers of the Greek Ministry of Economy and Development is the competent authority for managing complaints under Articles 7 and 8 of Regulation (EU) 260/2012 and imposing the relevant sanctions
• regarding any out-of-court settlement of disputes arising between PSUs and PSPs regarding their rights and obligations under Regulation (EU) 260/2012, the competent bodies are the Hellenic Consumers’ Ombudsman, the Ombudsman for Banking-Investment Services (H.O.B.I.S.) and the Amicable Settlement Committees referred to in Article 11 of Law 2251/1994 (Government Gazette Α 191)



Payment instructions for taxes and duties from other SEPA countries


Payment instructions for taxes and duties from other SEPA countries

The following link provides instructions by the Independent Authority for Public Revenue about the payment of taxes and duties via SEPA credit transfer:

http://www.aade.gr/plerome-phoron-kai-telon-apo-chores-tes-zones-sepa

For any information, please contact:

Taxpayers' Service Center
Tel. +30 213 162 1000

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Disclaimer

The Bank of Greece assumes no responsibility for any information obtained from third-party sources.



Inquiries

E-mail: Sec.Fundtransferstudy@bankofgreece.gr
Fax: +30 210 3244642

Contact persons

Yorgos Korfiatis                                        Iraklis Papageorgiou                                   
Tel. +30 210 6799781                              Tel. +30 210 6799784
e-mail: ykorfiatis@bankofgreece.gr            e-mail: ipapageorgiou@bankofgreece.gr  






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Related Links
SEPA INFORGRAFIC