Payment instruments

Payment instruments and schemes are an essential part of payment systems. Cards, credit transfers, direct debits and e-money are non-cash payment instruments with which end users of payment systems transfer funds between accounts at banks or other financial institutions.

Providing and using payment instruments generally does not generate systemic risk. However, these instruments must be extremely safe and efficient to maintain confidence in the currency and promote an efficient economy.

This is why the Eurosystem includes payment instruments in central bank oversight of payment systems.

Oversight standards

The Eurosystem has defined a harmonised oversight approach and a minimum set of common oversight standards for payment instruments used across the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). This includes the SEPA direct debit, SEPA credit transfers and cards.

For cards and e-money schemes, the common standards rely on policies adopted by the Eurosystem.

Each national central bank may also decide to apply the common standards for the oversight of other national (non-SEPA) payment instruments.

Guides, standards and frameworks

Oversight responsibilities

For payment instruments, the role of primary overseer (for the Eurosystem) is assigned according to the national anchor of the payment scheme and the legal incorporation of its governance authority.

For the SEPA credit transfer and direct debit schemes, as well as some of the international card payment schemes, the primary oversight role is attributed to the ECB.

Lead oversight roles

Lead overseer National card payment schemes International card payment schemes Other payment schemes
European Central Bank   American Express SEPA direct debit
Visa Europe SEPA credit transfer
Nationale Bank an België/Banque Nationale de Belgique Bancontact /MisterCash MasterCard Europe  
Deutsche Bundesbank girocard    
Banco de España 4B    
Euro 6000
ServiRed
Banque de France Banque Accord    
BNPP Personal Finance
CA Consumer Finance
Cartes Bancaires
Cofidis
Franfinance
Banca d’Italia Consorzio Bancomat    
Banco de Portugal MB    
Central Bank of Malta Cashlink    
Quikcash