European Payments Council Publishes Third Request To Pay Rulebook

November 29, 2022
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The European Payments Council has released the third version of the SEPA request to pay (SRTP) scheme rulebook incorporating public input received during a three-month consultation.

The European Payments Council (EPC) has released the third version of the SEPA request to pay (SRTP) scheme rulebook incorporating public input received during a three-month consultation.

The rulebook, published last Thursday (November 24), covers a set of operating rules and technical elements, such as messages, that allow a payee to request the initiation of a payment from a payer in a wide range of physical or online use cases.

The first version of the rulebook was published two years ago and updated last November. Each year, the EPC asks stakeholders to submit change requests with a view to ensuring that the rulebook keeps up with market developments.

Following a three-month public consultation held between May and August, the EPC released the latest version of the rulebook, which includes a number of changes.

The most significant revisions include requests for instalment payments, requests for payment initiation status and the possibility of sending a credit note by an SRTP message.

The ability to add a credit note, in addition to normal invoices, was suggested by the Finnish banking community and is expected to support B2B e-invoicing.

According to the document, a credit note could be sent after the original invoice, with a reference to link it to the previous invoices, and will serve as the last invoice in that commercial relationship.

New elements also include payee’s enrolment to allow consumers and businesses to enrol at their banks or payment service providers (PSPs) and get an SRTP address if they want to send or receive requests to pay.

Meanwhile, payer activation allows consumers to receive SRTP only from the payees they choose, which could be particularly useful when the service is used in recurring payments.

This feature protects consumers against unsolicited requests because no payee can send them a request to pay message if the consumer has not activated the payee at their SRTP service provider.

As an alternative to express open-end activation, consumers will also be able to use a one-off payer activation where the consumer shows their SRTP address within a QR code to the merchant, which serves as tacit consent for a one-off activation between the payee and the payer.

Supporting the change, the French Banking Federation (FBF) called it “an essential feature!”, while the European Association of Corporate Treasurers wrote that these processes “are essential to guarantee following smooth and secure SRTP messages flows”.

At the same time, the Italian Banking Association warned that the activation process “risks creating further barriers to the adoption of the service”.

The bankers’ group argued that consent could be expressed in verbal, written or through online processes, “but without the need to provide for a formal mechanism of activation-deactivation between the parties”.

The EPC also changed the rulebook to cover the redirection of the payer to the appropriate merchant’s web page, redirect processes and references to a previous SRTP message.

SRTP is not a means of payment or a payment instrument, but a messaging framework that enables requests for payment initiation.

Although RTP, in general, could enable banks to compete with other online payment methods, interoperability between various legacy systems used at different financial institutions could also be a challenge, according to open banking provider Tink.

As the scheme runs on SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst), its uptake also heavily relies on the use of instant payment rails, which are also struggling with adoption. It was hoped that the development of RTP could encourage new payment use cases that would help drive volumes of instant payments.

As of April 2021, only 23 percent of European payment providers were participating in SCT Inst, according to a CPG Finance Systems analysis, and only 11 percent of euro credit transfers were sent via the instant payment rails at the end of the year.

The European Commission has recently outlined plans for new instant payments regulations, with commitments for the mandatory provision of instant credit transfers.

Next steps

The third version of the SRTP rulebook is scheduled to enter into effect on November 30, 2023.

The EPC is now working on an API security framework which it plans to publish before the end of the year.

The third version of the SRTP implementation guidelines is expected to be issued in early 2023.

In the second quarter of next year, the council will release the SRTP-related API specifications based on the third version of the scheme rulebook and issue a new scheme clarification paper.

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