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What is SEPA?

The S.E.P.A. (Single Euro Payments Area) is the area in which citizens, companies and other economic actors make and receive payments and collections in euros, both within and outside their national boundaries, under the same basic conditions and with the same rights and obligations.

In the specific context of means of payment, a SEPA for cards will allow European users (cardholders and merchants) to use general purpose cards to make and receive payments, and to obtain cash in euros anywhere in the SEPA zone with the same ease, and under the same conditions, as in their home country.

In order to meet the challenge of self-regulating this evolution, European financial institutions have set up the EPC (European Payment Council), a coordinating body which is charged with preparing the essential documentation to enable progress towards creating and developing SEPA.

In relation to means of payment, the EPC has drawn up a reference framework for cards (SEPA Cards Framework), which gives a high-level definition of the principles on which the regulation of payment systems needs to be based.

What does SEPA compatible mean?

In order to be compatible with SEPA a means of payments scheme must:

  • Guarantee the continuity and stability of the system
  • Facilitate transparency as regards its regulation and admission system
  • Define a price policy that is transparent and accessible to all users and members
  • Encourage competition without geographical barriers and free of restrictions concerning the imposing of part-owned suppliers
  • Actively fighting fraud
  • Participate in the definition of standards facilitating fraud prevention and the expansion of systems

For more information on SEPA, see the European Central Bank and/or the European Payments Council (EPC) websites.