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The Ins and Outs of Rulebooks

The migration to SEPA is bringing about many changes. One of the most conspicuous of these changes is the standardisation of European payment products. As of 1 February 2014, all organisations and institutions in the payments chain will have to comply with these new standards. Payments in the SEPA countries will be harmonised, and cross-border payments will be easier than ever before.

To put giro payment products (SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit) on the right track, the European Payments Council (EPC) has drawn up rulebooks. A scheme rulebook details a payment product scheme, a set of interbank rules and standards. This scheme enables all payment products to be provided according to the same conditions. Every payment processor is obliged to comply with the requirements imposed by the EPC. The rulebooks apply only to the products SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) and SEPA Direct Debit (SDD).

As you can imagine, making their systems compliant with the standards set out in these rulebooks is a major undertaking for organisations. The EPC has therefore decided to publish a new version of each rulebook in November of each year in order to implement improvements and create new functionalities. As of November 2012, everyone will be required to use version 6.0. This version will apply until the SEPA migration end date of 1 February 2014.

In contrast to the giro products SCT and SDD, rulebooks will not be drawn up for card products. The requirements for transactions performed using these products will not be set out in detail in the way they would in a rulebook. Instead, a framework – the Cards Framework – will be defined within which the transactions must operate.

Even after 1 February 2014, there will be further system and process adjustments, as new versions of the rulebooks will continue to be published after the implementation of SEPA. Choosing a SEPA solution that can respond quickly and easily to the changes set out in the new versions of the rulebooks is therefore highly recommended.

There are major differences between the current local situation and the desired SEPA situation. The rulebooks should therefore be used as a useful tool and checklist for insuring a seamless transition to SEPA.

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