EPC Launch QR Standardisation Consultation

February 18, 2022
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Hot off the heels of Ant Group’s report on QR codes in the EU, the European Payments Council (EPC) has published a new consultation regarding standardisation in the trading bloc.

Hot off the heels of Ant Group’s report on QR codes in the EU, the European Payments Council (EPC) has published a new consultation regarding standardisation in the trading bloc.

The EPC, a standards-setting body that is responsible for the development of the Single European Payments Area (SEPA), has released a new call-out regarding QR code payments in the EU.

“In order to help developing (sic) a successful MSCT (mobile-initiated SEPA credit transfer) ecosystem that provides value for all, it is very important to gather industry opinion and market feedback regarding this QR-code standard for MSCTs,” the EPC said in its executive summary.

The European Retail Payments Board first invited the EPC in June last year to coordinate further work on the standardisation and governance of QR codes for instant payments at the point of interaction.

This document focuses on standardising a payee and a payer-presented QR-code for MSCTs, and includes payment contexts such as person-to-person, consumer-to-business, business-to-business and business-to-consumer.

It also addresses both SEPA Instant Credit Transfers (SCT Inst) and SCT payments, and stakeholders will need to respond by April 14.

The document also provides a suggestion for further international standardisation of the QR code and briefly outlines the interoperability of the QR-code standard specified in this document with, among others, the QR codes that have been defined by Alipay, the European Mobile Payment Systems Association (EMPSA), EMVCo and the EPI (although the latter has yet to formally enter the market).

For example, Alipay, along with its acquiring partners, currently uses a Contactless Gateway Code Protocol for cross-border QR payments. A similar code format is also used for domestic payments in China, with some variations regarding the length and the payload part of the code.

Meanwhile, EMVCo has developed the EMV® QR Code Specifications. This includes specifications for both merchant presented and consumer presented QR-code payments.

These, according to the EPC, enable merchants to accept QR-code payment solutions from various providers in a standardised manner, using a single QR code.

The success of QR-code payments in Europe has yet to be fully realised, with market experts believing that the issue at stake is standardisation, whether achieved via the market or through regulatory intervention.

For example, according to a recent Ant Group-commissioned report, 85 percent of Chinese consumers use QR codes, but just 3 percent of EU consumers do.

Work has been undertaken for sometime to try and improve the outlook for EU QR payments.

For example, in 2019, six mobile wallets (Bluecode, ePassi, Momo Pocket, PAGAQUI, Pivo, and Vipps), covering ten different markets in Europe, teamed up with Alipay to develop an interoperable QR-code payment system.

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