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Cards Standardisation Volume and SEPA Rulebooks receive small updates

Version 7.0 of the SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume is ready for market implementation. The European Payments Council (EPC) and the Cards Stakeholders Group (CSG) published the latest version last month. These new versions are the result of public consultation on version 6.5 in June 2013, where the CSG received more than 2,000 comments from market participants. According to the EPC this version is “a major achievement reflecting a unique multi-stakeholder effort in the area of cards.” 

Requirements

The CSG is a multi-stakeholder body representing retailers, vendors, processors, card schemes and the EPC. The CSG develops and maintains the SCS Volume. The SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume (SCS) defines a standard set of requirements to ensure an interoperable and scalable terminal infrastructure across SEPA, based on open international cards standards. The six books of the SCS version 7.0 cover a set of requirements applicable to cards-present (face-to-face) transactions to allow investment decisions and implementations based on stable requirements. The SCS Volume does not establish specifications or standards as such, but rather sets (functional and security) standardisation requirements, which refer to existing international standards by ISO (International Organization for Standardization), EMVCo (initially Europay MasterCard Visa) and PCI SCC (Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council).

All stakeholders are encouraged to roll out services and products in line with the requirements set out in version 7.0 in a three-year period, i.e. by January 2017. This means, the SCS Volume requirements for card-present transactions are expected to be met for new cards and terminals being introduced in the market from 2017 onwards.

Promote interoperability and foster competition

Ugo Bechis, Chair of the EPC Cards Working Group and CSG Co-Chair, explains, “Implementation of common standardisation requirements detailed in the SCS Volume will promote interoperability and foster competition in the SEPA cards domain. Version 7.0 requirements will bring benefits to planning and stability of investments on terminals and on cards by market players, usually made with a five to seven year perspective, or perhaps longer. Cost savings and stability are relevant in the physical card environment to favour cheaper, easier and broader acceptance both at national and cross-border levels. Once the harmonisation exercise is concluded on card-not-present requirements, it is expected to promote development and innovation for both e- and m-commerce and e- and m-payments.”

Updated SEPA Rulebooks

Besides the SCS, the European Payments Council has also updated the SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) and SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) Rulebooks to version 7.1 and the SDD Business to Business Rulebook to version 5.1. The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) payment schemes, as stated in the SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) and SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) Rulebooks, evolve based on a transparent change management process adhered to by the European Payments Council (EPC). This evolution reflects changes in market needs and updates of technical standards developed by international standard bodies, such as the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO).

Editorial amendments

Since the launch of the SCT and SDD Schemes, the EPC has generally published updated versions of the rulebooks and associated implementation guidelines once annually in November. In January 2014, the EPC published the SCT Rulebook version 7.1, the SDD Core Rulebook version 7.1 and the SDD B2B Rulebook version 5.1. The SCT Rulebook version 7.0, SDD Core Rulebook version 7.0 and SDD B2B Rulebook version 5.0 published in November 2012 have been updated to include a few editorial amendments.

The updated rulebook versions remain unchanged from a functional or technical point of view. Changes introduced in the updated versions are purely of administrative nature and have no operational impact whatsoever.

The main difference in the updated rulebooks is the lack of reference to the EPC document entitled ‘PE-ACH/Clearing and Settlement Mechanism (CSM) Framework’ or the concept of a ‘Pan-European Automated Clearing House (PE-ACH)’. The EPC resolved to withdraw the document ‘PE-ACH/Clearing and Settlement Mechanism (CSM) Framework’, which was first published in January 2007, from publication, because it is no longer required at this stage in the SEPA process.

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