Sepa and the PSD: a brief history
The Single Euro Payment Area (Sepa) is a classic example of unintended consequences. In 2000, the European Union’s Lisbon Strategy set out a plan to create an internal market for financial services by 2010. The first fruit of that plan was regulation 2560 in 2001, an EU Parliament and European Council measure that aimed to remove differences in costs of eurozone cross-border card payments, ATM withdrawals and credit transfers throughout the region – thus increasing efficiency, lowering costs and improving competitiveness.
European banks, realizing the impact that Regulation 2560 would have on their bottom line when it came into force in 2002, decided – like a reckless poker player – to up the stakes without thinking of how the other players would react. A total of 42 banks, the three European Credit Sector Associations and the Euro Banking Association formed the European Payments Council with a goal of simplifying and codifying standards – creating Sepa – so that banks would be able to lower their costs as they were forced to lower charges.