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SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst) scheme development

Updated time: May 23, 2020, 05:06 (UTC+03:00)

The European Payment Council updates SEPA payment scheme rulebooks every 2 years to reflect market needs and evolutions in the technical standards. This new version is called SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst). The percentage of the scheme performance has evolved dramatically from 2019 to 2020 and the future is on the move despite the effect of Brexit.

SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst) scheme development

Source : DSBC Financial Europe 2020

What is SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst)?

SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst) is the largest scheme of  the European Payment Council. It announces to the public a new era in payments.

With the booming of smartphone popularity and eCommerce trend, the digital economy entails to be met by a general acceleration of payments which help customers make online purchases anywhere and any time, including during evening hours, weekends and holidays. While the traditional payment approaches cannot operate in the rest times, the need of real time payment from shoppers and the certainty paid from suppliers are fulfilled completely by SCT Inst scheme.

The need for a pan-European instant payment scheme is essential. Several European countries planned their own solutions to the challenge of rapid payment. Although they are still searching for a solution to overcome national borders and the fragmentation of European payments, their efforts are on the upward trend.

Development milestones

Until Mid-May 2020, there were 2.263 registered SCT Inst scheme participants (accounted for 55.8% of total SCT scheme participants). The figure of SCT Inst scheme participants has evolved dramatically.

Development milestones

ESTIMATED SHARE OF SCT INST VOLUMES IN

TOTAL CT* VOLUMES (*SCT + SCT Inst.) (unit: %)

Source: European Payments Council

The article 4 of the SEPA Regulation 2 stipulates that euro-denominated payment schemes must ensure the Payment Service Providers (PSPs) participating in such scheme must:

  •   Constitute a majority of PSPs within the European Union
  •   Represent a majority of PSPs within a majority of EU Member States

This article allows the European Payment Council to apply for a temporary exemption for these two conditions for a maximum of three years. The SCT Inst scheme was officially launched on 21 November 2017 and has formally been granted this temporary exemption until 21 November 2020.

As of 8 May 2020, the SCT Inst scheme has the following adherence status compared to the SCT scheme adherence in the 27 EU countries:

Development milestones

Source: European Payments Council

From the above statistic, only the first condition of  the SEPA Regulation is fully met. The number of eligible countries in terms of adherence is still low while the size of implementation is across the Euro area.

On 5 March 2020, the EPC published the version 1.1 of all four 2019 SEPA payment scheme rulebooks. The 1.1 versions include an updated version of the Scheme Management Internal Rules (now named ‘SEPA Payment Scheme Management Rules’). 

These rules now reflect the creation of a Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) which replaces the Compliance and Adherence Committee (CAC) and the Appeals Committee. All references to activities and duties related to the CAC and the Appeals Committee have been removed from the SEPA Payment Scheme Management Rules and from specific sections in the four rulebooks themselves.

Risk Management

Scheme participants are free to choose between operating processes entirely by themselves and using intermediaries or outsourcing (partially or completely) some activities to third parties – to the extent that this is compatible with their respective supervisory obligations in this area.

Firstly, all PSPs outsourcing critical or important functions must at all times comply with the European Banking Authority Guidelines on Outsourcing Arrangements, which apply to all outsourcings by credit institutions, payment institutions (PIs) and electronic money institutions (EMIs).

Furthermore, concrete measures to remediate these risks, outlined by each RMA, include: 

  • Regularly reviewing of the contractual arrangements in place with the selected third parties, outlining their respective responsibilities and liabilities, specific service levels with clear KPIs and concrete Business Contingency Plan measures to assure the contractual services;
  • Inclusion of remedy and termination clauses in case of no cooperation on Major Incidents;
  • The set-up and the regular testing of the incident management processes (including escalation procedures) with the selected third parties;
  • Regularly monitoring of the actual performance of the selected third parties with the provisions defined in the contractual arrangements and address any issue.
  • Specific reference is made to Title IV of the EBA Guidelines on Outsourcing Arrangements.

Finally, the SMB remarks that all participants since their adherence to the EPC SEPA payment schemes shall have taken all corporate actions to perform their obligations under and comply with the provisions of the rulebook(s) concerned, including the ongoing compliance of their own rules, procedures and agreements with the laws, regulations and generic supervisory requirements applicable to them, including the EBA Guidelines on Outsourcing Arrangements, as amended from time to time.

The UK and EPC SEPA payment schemes

The UK has left the EU on 31 January 2020 that marks the start of an eleven-month transition period for the adoption of negotiated measures and the conclusion of the future Agreement to govern the relations between the UK and the EU.

During the transition period, which will run until 31 December 2020, 11 PM, GMT, the UK will cease to be a Member State of the EU and will become a non-European Economic Area (EEA) country. However, during said period, the UK will remain part of the EU Single Market and customs union, and the relevant EU regulatory framework will continue to apply.

For the purposes of the EPC SEPA payment schemes, although the UK will become a non-EEA SEPA country as of 1 February 2020, UK payment service providers will continue operating within the scope of the SEPA payment schemes, because the UK will keep complying with the relevant SEPA participation criteria as existing EU rules and regulations will continue to apply in the UK.

To this extent, between 1 February and 31 December 2020, no new requirement will be applied, and no changes including charging codes and treatment for Anti-Money Laundering purposes, transactions to and from the UK will remain the same during this period.

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