SEPA - Single Euro Payments Area


SEPA - the new frontier for payments

The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) was created as part of a pan-European project aimed at offering citizens in the European Community the possibility of carrying out Credit Transfer and Direct Debit operations to counterparties in any Eurozone country by using a set of harmonised payment instruments. Within the SEPA, all payments in Euros are considered “domestic”. Hence there is no distinction between national and transnational payments within the Eurozone.

The SEPA is made up of harmonised payment instruments (credit transfers, direct debits and payment cards); European infrastructures for the processing of euro-denominated payments; common technical standards and operating practices (UNIFI - ISO 20022 - XML standards); a harmonised legal framework and evolving, customer-focused services.


The European banking sector's decision-making and coordination body for SEPA is the EPC (European Payments Council)  , which has defined a self-regulating plan that will enable the gradual shift from national payment instruments to the equivalent pan-European ones.


As stated by the European Commission, 1 February 2014 will see the coming into effect of mandatory adoption of SEPA for national procedures involved. From 1 February 2016, end-users were also obliged to migrate to SEPA standards, in parallel with the divestiture of so-called "niche" instruments (i.e. fixed amount financial RIDs) and the obligation for PSPs to derive the BIC from the IBAN on a European scale.


More details and information about the status of the Italian system with regard to SEPA migration and the SEPA instruments approved by the EPC can be found on the  SEPA-ABI website or by reading the  National Migration Plan approved by the National Migration Committee on 4 May 2007 as amended.


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