SEPA is a European Union (EU) initiative aimed at simplifying and harmonizing electronic payment transactions within Europe. SEPA covers all countries within the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA), along with Switzerland and Monaco. The main objective of SEPA is to create a single, integrated market for euro-denominated payments, making cross-border transactions as easy and efficient as domestic transactions. SEPA covers various types of electronic payments, including credit transfers, direct debits, and card payments.
The STEP2 SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) Service is a Pan-European Automated Clearing House (PE-ACH) operated by EBA Clearing, which is a leading clearing and settlement infrastructure provider in Europe. The SCT Service enables banks and financial institutions to send and receive SEPA payments across the entire SEPA region.
Here's how the STEP2 SCT Service operates:
Pan-European reach: The SCT Service allows participating banks to send and receive SEPA credit transfers, reaching all other financial institutions within the SEPA region. This ensures that euro-denominated payments can be made seamlessly across borders.
Resilience and disaster recovery: The SCT Service is designed with high resilience and full disaster recovery features, ensuring the continuous, secure, and efficient processing of SEPA payments, even in the event of technical disruptions or failures.
Settlement in T2: Participants in the SCT Service settle their STEP2 positions through T2, which is the Eurosystem's real-time gross settlement (RTGS) system for large-value payments in euros. STEP2 first creates bilateral gross positions for each participant and reports them. Then, it calculates the multilateral net positions and sends these amounts to TARGET2 using the Ancillary System Interface.
Reconciliation messages: Participants in the SCT Service can request specific SWIFT messages (MT 900 / MT 910, MT 940 / MT 950) from T2 for reconciliation purposes. These messages provide transaction confirmations, account statements, and balance reports, which can help participants verify and reconcile their account activity.
In summary, SEPA is an EU initiative aimed at simplifying and harmonizing electronic payment transactions within Europe, making cross-border payments as easy as domestic ones. The STEP2 SCT Service from EBA Clearing is a Pan-European Automated Clearing House that enables banks and financial institutions to send and receive SEPA credit transfers across the SEPA region. The service operates with high resilience and disaster recovery features and settles participant positions through TARGET2, allowing for secure, efficient, and seamless euro-denominated transactions across borders.
SEPA Instant Credit Transfer
In the EU, all instant credit transfers in euro are based on the European Payments Council’s SEPA Instant Credit Transfer scheme (SCT Inst), which was launched in November 2017. The key features of SCT Inst include the service being consistently available (24 hours a day, 365 days a year); and it taking no more than ten seconds for the recipient’s payment service provider (PSP) to inform the payer’s PSP whether the money has been received and, in the case of a successful transaction, to make the funds available to the recipient. While uptake has been growing, the provision of instant payments to payment account holders is not available to the same degree across all SEPA jurisdictions. Measures to further harmonise the provision of instant payments across SEPA jurisdictions would increase customer choice and foster innovation, greater safety and strategic autonomy for European payments.
SEPA Direct Debit is a payment method within the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), allowing businesses and individuals to collect euro-denominated payments from debtor bank accounts in the SEPA zone, which comprises 36 countries. It streamlines cross-border direct debit transactions by establishing a standardized framework and simplifying the process for both creditors and debtors.
There are two main types of SEPA Direct Debit schemes:
SEPA Direct Debit Core (SDD Core): This scheme is designed for both consumer and business-to-business transactions. In this scheme, consumers have the right to request a refund for any authorized transactions within eight weeks, without providing a reason.
SEPA Direct Debit Business-to-Business (SDD B2B): This scheme is specifically designed for business-to-business transactions. The debtor in the B2B scheme has a shorter period to request a refund and must provide a reason for the refund request.
To initiate a SEPA Direct Debit transaction, the following prerequisites must be met:
Creditor Identifier (CI): The creditor must obtain a unique Creditor Identifier from their respective national authority. The CI is used to identify the creditor in all SEPA Direct Debit transactions and helps maintain a clear audit trail.
Bank accounts: Both the creditor and debtor must hold bank accounts with financial institutions located within the SEPA zone.
SEPA-compliant bank: The debtor's and creditor's banks must be SEPA-compliant, meaning they can process SEPA transactions according to the established rules and regulations.
SEPA Direct Debit Mandate: The debtor must sign a mandate authorizing the creditor to collect payments from their bank account. The mandate must include specific details such as the debtor's bank account information, the CI of the creditor, and the terms and conditions of the agreement.
Notification: The creditor must notify the debtor of the upcoming direct debit transaction, including the amount and due date, in accordance with the rules of the specific SEPA Direct Debit scheme being used.
Submission of the transaction: The creditor must submit the direct debit transaction to their bank in the prescribed format (ISO 20022 XML). The creditor's bank then forwards the transaction to the debtor's bank for processing.
Execution of the transaction: The debtor's bank verifies the validity of the mandate and the availability of funds before executing the transaction. If successful, the funds are transferred from the debtor's account to the creditor's account.
If you want to know more about how to transfer funds through the corresponding banking system, please get in contact with our Head of Corresponding Banking M. Amri Elarisse