Let me be honest here. This article is for me 😊. Someone asked me how the different stakeholders in Europe contribute to SEPA? I tried finding the answer. After some serious reading, I wanted to summarize my understanding in such a way that it’s easy for me and others to refer to. The scope of this article is only the major bodies involved in SEPA’s implementation/function and I have not included sub-committees and branch organizations.
We should remember that the original objective of SEPA is to make all cross-border payments within European Union as a domestic payment. I mean that if someone from Germany initiates a payment to a friend in Finland, it should be considered a domestic payment and not a cross-border. It also aims to replace the different national clearings with a pan-European clearing.
The major stakeholders of SEPA
- EU parliament
- European Commission
- Euro Retail payments board
- European Central Bank (ECB)
- European Payment Council (EPC)
They basically fall in one of these three categories
EU Parliament and Council:
It is the only elected body in the EU and in this list, representing the member states. The Council of the European Union, also known as the Council, comprises ministers from each member state. European laws are made by these two organizations and of course, the laws related to SEPA are made by these bodies.
They take into consideration recommendations from ECOFIN and the European Commission.
This is the political driver of SEPA right from its inception. The European Commission represents the interest of the EU and proposes legislation related to SEPA. It has the power to amend the technical requirements of SEPA.
The Economic and Financial affairs council is part of the Council mentioned above and it consists of the economic and financial ministers of the EU member states. It proposes laws related to SEPA and it monitors the economy of the EU member states in very layman terms.
Euro Retail payments board:
It has replaced what was formally called as the SEPA council. It is headed by the European central bank and promotes innovation, integration and the competitiveness of the euro retails payments in the EU. It has contributed to several SEPA initiatives like instant payments and has tried to remove any countries national characteristic in SEPA.
European Central Bank (ECB)
It is the central bank of the eurozone i.e., the countries that have adopted the Euro as their currency. The central bank of each of the countries is represented here. It monitored the SEPA transition closely and published annual reports. It is one of the main stakeholders in the creation of SEPA.
It provided the directions, requirements, and timetables for the inception of SEPA. To date, it monitors various aspects of SEPA.
European Payment Council (EPC):
Established as a Non-Profit organization, It is the most famous one on the list. It’s responsible for coordinating the decision-making bodies of the European banking industry. Its members include Banks, banking communities, and payment institutions. The development of the SEPA payment scheme and the framework falls upon the EPC and it has adopted the ISO20022 format for the payment messages development.
The most important deliverable of EPC is the yearly rule book which contains the latest changes to the SEPA rules. EPC consults with its members and tries to identify the new changes required for the market and proposes changes to the rule book.
As an honorary mention, another organization called Euro Banking Association (EBA) runs pan-European clearinghouses like STEP1 and STEP2.
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