Common technical standards are needed for processing SEPA payments. They are necessary to allow interaction and interoperability between IT systems and to ensure an automated processing of euro-denominated transactions between payment service providers (PSPs). This is referred to as “straight-through processing”, which means that no manual intervention is needed.
Regulation No 260/2012 requires the use of certain common standards and technical requirements, such as the use of International Bank Account Numbers (IBAN), Business Identifier Codes (BIC)and the financial services messaging standard ISO 20022 XML for all credit transfers and direct debits in euro in the EU.
According to the European Payments Council (EPC), a Single Euro Payments Area for cards will be achieved to the greatest extent possible through the use of open and free standards, available to all parties along the cards payment value chain. In cooperation with other stakeholders, the EPC is carrying out a card standardisation programme designed to remove any technical obstacles preventing a consistent customer experience throughout the SEPA cards market.
The SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume - Book of Requirements, developed by the EPC, defines the functional and security requirements, including requirements for the evaluation and certification methodology and architecture, that are recommended by the EPC for adoption throughout the card payment value chain to ensure interoperability within SEPA.
The creation of a genuinely integrated European cards market is heavily dependent on the implementation of harmonised functional standards. The Eurosystem – in its catalyst role – facilitates a continuous dialogue between market participants. In this context, a first Forum on functional SEPA Cards Standardisation was successfully held in March 2011, followed by a second Forum in February 2013 to discuss achievements and the way ahead for the cards functional standardisation domain.