The European Payments Council (EPC), the coordination and
decision-making body of the European payments industry, has
highlighted “substantial progress” achieved in delivering several
initiatives for the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) within
its 2009 annual report

In November 2009, the EPC successfully launched the SEPA Core
Direct Debit Scheme and the SEPA Business to Business Direct Debit
Scheme. Banks throughout SEPA are now starting to deliver
SEPA Direct Debit services to their customers.

All branches of banks in the euro area must be reachable for
SEPA Core Direct Debit by 1 November 2010 as mandated by the EU
Regulation on cross-border payments in the Community.

Looking ahead, the EPC said
that mobile payments will be a key area of focus, given that
the mobile channel is an “ideal launch pad for SEPA payment
instruments.” The EPC is collaborating with mobile operators and
other stakeholders to establish the necessary standards and
business rules with regard to the initiation and receipt of credit,
debit and other card payments through mobile phones. The aim is to
establish proposals that are ripe for collaboration and
standardisation and which form the basis for interoperability.

The intention is to establish a service
framework sufficient to reach potentially all payers and payees in
the European Economic Area, and to create a trusted and secure
environment that multiple stakeholders can use to facilitate SEPA
payments initiated through the mobile channel in a convenient way.
“At the same time, a common technical interoperability and business
framework will avoid market fragmentation which would hinder the
emergence of open, non-proprietary technology standards for
user-friendly mobile payment services,” the report stated.

The EPC Roadmap for mobile payments will cover
SEPA card proximity payments for all usage cases except
person-to-person; SEPA card mobile remote payments for
person-to-business, business-to-business and person-to-person; and
SEPA credit transfer mobile remote payments in all usage cases.

EPC Chair Gerard Hartsink said: “The EPC
annual report for 2009 demonstrates the continued commitment of the
European payments industry to making SEPA a reality. The successful
conclusion of this harmonisation exercise requires action by all