What is the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA)?

The Single Euro Payments Area is a framework created by the European Union (EU) to standardise payments within the Eurozone. SEPA aims to facilitate efficient and secure cross-border electronic payments in Euros and make them as simple as domestic transactions.


The SEPA network currently handles approximately 43 billion transactions a year and is categorised into four different payment processing schemes:


  • SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT)

  • SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst)

  • SEPA Direct Debit Core (SDD)

  • SEPA Direct Debit Business-to-Business (SDD B2B)


Which countries are part of SEPA?


There are 36 members of SEPA, including:


  • All 27 members of the EU

  • The United Kingdom (UK)

  • Andorra, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City State, Mayotte, Saint-Pierre-et Miquelon, Guernsey, Jersey and Isle of Man



image

map showing member countries of the SEPA zone


Are SEPA and SWIFT the same?


SEPA is a Eurozone-specific initiative for euro-denominated transactions within the European Union. In contrast, SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) is a global messaging network facilitating secure communication among financial institutions worldwide.


What are the benefits of SEPA payments?


Businesses can benefit from using SEPA payments in the following ways:


  1. Efficiency: SEPA streamlines payment processes, making transactions faster and more efficient. It eliminates the complexities of cross-border payments, providing a common set of rules and standards.
     

  2. Cost-effective: SEPA reduces costs for businesses and individuals by eliminating fees associated with multiple national payment systems. Using a single currency also minimises currency conversion costs.
     

  3. Uniform payment methods: SEPA introduces standard payment instruments, such as SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) and SEPA Direct Debit (SDD), ensuring a consistent approach to electronic payments across participating countries.
     

  4. Simple cross-border transactions: SEPA treats cross-border transactions within the Eurozone like domestic transactions, simplifying processes and systems for international payments.
     

  5. Enhanced competition and market integration: SEPA contributes to a more integrated and competitive European payments market, fostering innovation, improved services, and greater choice for consumers and businesses.


How much do SEPA transfers cost?


With 3S Money IBAN accounts, it's free to receive SEPA payments, and sending one costs just €1, regardless of the payment's size. There's no charge for receiving a SEPA payment. 


We help businesses worldwide access SEPA using virtual IBANs connected to a multi-currency International Business Account.


How long do SEPA transfers take?


The time it takes for a SEPA payment to be processed varies depending on the scheme used:


  • Standard SEPA Credit Transfer: Typically takes one business day, similar to a domestic money transfer, but weekends and national bank holidays may impact this.
     

  • SEPA Instant Credit Transfer: Completes within a few seconds, unaffected by weekends and bank holidays.
     

  • SEPA Direct Debit Core Payments: Usually complete within two working days.
     

  • B2B Direct Debit Payments: Typically take three working days.


Make high-value SEPA payments with 3S Money


Every 3S Money account is assigned a dedicated Client Manager who can help you maximise your payment opportunities in Europe and beyond. Whether you need to pay local salaries or suppliers or accept customer payments in Euro, our International Business Account can help you scale on your terms.

Here's a taste of what we offer:


  • EU SEPA-enabled IBANs in your company name.

  • Access to 65+ currencies with competitive exchange rates.

  • 100% online application with no EU/EEA resident requirements.

  • Send & receive high-value payments from 190+ countries & territories.


Contact our team to find out how we can support your business today.



Last updated: 15/01/24



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