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Single Euro Payments Area

The SEPA project is another major step towards closer European financial integration and realising the full potential of the single market in Europe.

SEPA will be the area where citizens, companies and other economic actors will be able to make and receive payments in euro within Europe, whether between or within national boundaries, under the same basic conditions, rights and obligations, regardless of their location. SEPA will thus create a single euro payments market where people will be able to make payments in euro all over Europe as easily as if they were making a payment in their home country.

SEPA will impact credit transfers, direct debits and card payments:

  • The SEPA Credit Transfer Scheme merges rules contained in existing European agreements on the processing of cross-border payments into a single framework, thus ensuring a standard European procedure for handling mass payments.
  • The SEPA Direct Debit Scheme creates for the first time a payment instrument that can be used for both domestic and cross-border direct debit collection.
  • The SEPA Cards Framework defines general card scheme requirements designed to make payment throughout Europe much easier. Customers will be able to use their card throughout the EU without noticing any difference to using it in their home country.

SEPA went live on 28 January 2008 with the launch of the first SEPA payment product for credit transfers. This marked the first step in a market-led migration process from existing national electronic payment products to the new SEPA –compliant instruments.

The transposition of the Payment Services Directive into national legislation in 2009 was an essential element in this process, particularly insofar as the Direct Debit Scheme is concerned, as the Scheme needs to be underpinned with an effective level of legal harmonisation in force in all the countries in which it is implemented. 

The Maltese banking community is fully committed to the SEPA project and, through the Malta Bankers’ Association, is working closely with the Central Bank of Malta to steer the project forward and to ensure its successful implementation in Malta.

Malta National SEPA Implementation Plan