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European Payments Council Unveils SEPA Direct Debit Schemes

SEPA direct debit services enable customers to make and receive both domestic and cross-border euro direct debit payments throughout the 32 SEPA countries

The European Payments Council (EPC), the coordination and decision-making body of the European banking industry in relation to payments, has launched the SEPA Core Direct Debit Scheme (SCDDS) and plans to launch the SEPA business to business direct debit scheme (SDD B2B)on 2 November, 2009.

Reportedly, SDD B2B enables customers 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.

EPC has said that the banks throughout the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) are now starting to deliver SDD B2B to their customers. EPC has added that all branches of banks in the Euro area must be reachable for SCDDS by 1 November 2010 as mandated by the EU regulation on cross-border payments in the community.

According to the EPC, 2607 banks representing about 70% of SEPA payment volumes have signed up to the new schemes and are ready to roll-out SDD B2B from 2 November 2009 onwards.

The European Commission expects that the legal and technical SEPA harmonisation exercise facilitates the dematerialisation of business processes by replacing paper-based procedures with standardised electronic solutions such as e-invoicing.

Gerard Hartsink, chairman of EPC, said: “The SEPA credit transfer scheme, the SEPA direct debit schemes and the SEPA cards framework developed by the EPC in close dialogue with the customer community strengthen the monetary union. The SEPA schemes also support cross-border trade within the internal market.”

“Moving forward, the focus must be on accelerating migration to the new euro payment instruments. Today, more than 4500 banks offer SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) services. Eighteen months after the launch of the SCT, 4.4% of all euro credit transfers in the EU are actually based on the SCT scheme. The current rate of SEPA market uptake is in line with expectations considering the average timelines required for the roll-out of other major EU integration initiatives,” he added.