European Payments Council Delays Rulebook Change - Just Weeks Before Deadline

October 25, 2023
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The European Payments Council (EPC) has pushed back changes to the SEPA Credit Transfer rulebook that were due to be implemented next month.

The European Payments Council (EPC) has pushed back changes to the SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) rulebook that were due to be implemented next month.

Changes to the EPC SCT rulebook will no longer come into effect on November 19, 2023 after members voted to delay the implementation date.

Based on feedback collected from SEPA participants this month, the Payment Scheme Management Board (PSMB) of the EPC concluded that a successful migration to ISO 20022 could not be guaranteed for "at least two large SEPA countries" by next month's deadline.

Vixio understands that the decision to push back the implementation was due to clearing houses in the Netherlands, Austria and Germany not being ready for the implementation date. 

This is due to reported operational delays and/or the need for additional testing time to ensure a safe migration, according to the EPC. 

This means that all four 2023 SEPA payment scheme rulebooks and related implementation guidelines will enter into force on Sunday March 17, 2024, instead of November 19, 2023. 

This postponement also applies to all other changes introduced to the respective 2023 SEPA payment scheme rulebooks and related implementation guidelines. 

As a consequence, the 2021 SEPA payment scheme rulebooks and related guidance remain in effect until the new March deadline.

Disappointment towards last-minute decision

When approached, sources that Vixio spoke to were understandably disappointed by the news. 

"To my knowledge, the EPC has never pushed back a release. This is a first,” commented Kjeld Herreman, head of strategy advisory at RedCompass Labs. 

Considering the November deadline, Herreman described the decision as “last minute”.

“Banks will need to revise their programs and do so very quickly,” he said. “Because of this delay, they will have to delay version upgrades, which can be problematic.”

For example, the new ISO 20022 version that would be rolled out in this EPC rulebook update is in line with the version used by the European Central Bank’s TARGET2 system, as well as Swift. 

“Many banks were using the interoperability promised by this release as an opportunity to consolidate payment systems,” he said. “This delay causes additional costs for these banks, and delays some of the anticipated benefits associated to the simplification of their payment systems.”

“We thank the SEPA payment scheme participants and CSMs which were properly prepared for the migration, but the reachability, stability and integrity of the SEPA payment schemes is our highest priority,” said EPC chief Giorgio Andreoli in a press statement

“The payment service provider communities and all stakeholders may be reassured that the EPC will take every possible measure to secure the success of the migration in the new proposed date,” he said. 

The EPC first published updated and enhanced versions of the SCT and SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) rulebooks in May 2022. 

Vixio has approached clearing house owners in Austria, Germany and the Netherlands for comment. 

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