SEPA card payments isn’t something that i have really gotten into so far, simply because the initial focus was achieving SEPA compliance and then funky fintech stuff started kicking off…! But last week, the European Payments Council issued a press release detailing the publication of a SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume (version 7.1). I must admit, it sounded a bit heavy and as a result its taken over a week for me to look into it. I actually ended up finding out a few things and so thought i’d share those learnings with you in this post.
The Future of SEPA Card Payments in Europe
The SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume will underpin the future of card payments in Europe. This is what you need to know…
1. What is a SEPA Card?
There is no specific SEPA card per se – it refers to a set of rules and standards (defined in the SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume) that credit and debit card operators in the European Union should abide by.
2. Who is responsible for the the SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume?
- The European Payments Council (EPC)
- Representing Payment Service Providers
- The Cards Stakeholders Group (CSG)
- These guys represent retailers, vendors, processors, cards schemes and the EPC
3. SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume is a bit of a long name, eh?
Yeah, that’s what i was thinking. SEPA Cards Standardisation is often shortened to:
- The SCS Volume
- The Volume
…which will make it a bit easier to say and type..!
4. What is the point of the SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume?
According to the press release, the document is important for the industry as it sets out guidelines, standards and conformance processes for:
- Payments and cash withdrawals in SEPA
- Payment cards standardisation and interoperability within Europe
- Common and current payment card security standards in the SEPA zone
- Card operators so that a level playing field is established which should encourage competition and ultimately benefit consumers
Ultimately the EPC and CSG group are trying to secure card payments across the SEPA zone and simplify the card payments process for European Union citizens.
5. What’s is new in this SCS Volume?
Given the move to mobile payments channels this document sets out – for the first time – the security requirements across Europe for cashless payments or cards-not-present transactions. Also, this is the first European guidance on cards since the recent European Regulation on interchange fees
6. Whats the Go Live date for the SEPA Cards Framework?
Well, there isn’t a mandatory deadline for this. Instead they’re hoping that the card industry will self regulate themselves, and therefore encourages SEPA cards stakeholders implement the requirements highlighted in the SCS Volume by December 2018
7. The SCS Volume is Voluntary – Really…?
The EPC SEPA Vision for Cards states that there is a good precedence for voluntary implementation in Europe. For example the cards industry voluntarily implemented EMV in Europe in 2004. Did you know that EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa?!?!? Anyway, it is the standard that requires chip and PIN (personal identification number) to authenticate the cardholder.
Any device that complies with the SCS Volume will be branded as “Volume Conformant”.
8. Where can I find out more about the SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume?
You’re not going to believe this, there are 7 Books (according to the EPC) that make up the SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume!!!
But actually if you count the books 1 by 1 (how else would you count, i hear you ask…), there are 8 books. As you’ll see from the below, book 3 confuses things. Book 3 consists of 2 parts, one describes the definition of the XML and the second is an accompanying spreadsheet for the techie folks.
You can go to the SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume Version 7.1 page and find links to all of the 7 (!!) books at bottom. Or you can follow the below links – i indicated the number of pages, just in case you want to prioritise the order in which you look at them:
- Book 1 – SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume – General – 53 Pages
- Book 2 – SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume – Functional Requirements – 107 pages
- Book 3 – SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume – Data Elements (XML requirements) – 104 pages
- Book 3 – SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume – Data Elements Spreadsheet – accompanies Book 3 above
- Book 4 – SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume – Security Requirements – 102 pages
- Book 5 – SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume – Conformance Verification Processes – 19 pages
- Book 6 – SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume – Implementation Guidelines – 53 pages
- Book 7 – SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume – Cards Processing Framework – 16 pages
Happy reading!!! 🙂