The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is a European Union (EU) initiative to harmonise payments across the Eurozone. Its goal is to make European payments as easy and cheap as domestic ones by creating a single market for euro-denominated payments.
To achieve this, the European Payments Council (EPC) has created three SEPA schemes. Each scheme is a set of interbank “rules, practices and standards” that defines a payment instrument:
- SEPA Direct Debit (SDD)
- SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT)
- SEPA Cards Framework (SCF)
Which countries are part of SEPA?
SEPA consists of the 28 EU member states together with the four members of the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). Monaco and San Marino are also part of SEPA.
SEPA is only used for euro-denominated payments. For this reason, the percentage of customers reachable by SEPA varies on a country-by-country basis.
In Eurozone countries, all bank accounts that were previously reachable through a national scheme are now reachable via the SEPA payment schemes:
In non-eurozone countries, the SEPA schemes are only used for euro-denominated payments. Reachability is only required for euro-denominated bank accounts. For payments made in the local currency, national schemes should continue to be used.