The European Payments Council’s first SEPA Payment Account Access (SPAA) rulebook – the Tink take

4 min read|Published December 02, 2022
The European Payments Council’s first SEPA Payment Account Access (SPAA) rulebook – the Tink take

The European Payments Council published the first SEPA Payment Account Access (SPAA) rulebook, including rules for Dynamic Recurring Payments. This new scheme looks beyond PSD2 capabilities to new premium concepts – laying the groundwork for businesses to adopt a wider range of open banking powered payments.

TL;DR – Quick summary
  • The European Payments Council (EPC) has published the first SEPA Payment Account Access (SPAA) rulebook, including rules for Dynamic Recurring Payments.

  • This new scheme looks beyond PSD2 to new concepts, aiming to bring premium API-based services to life. It paves the way for more widespread adoption of open banking payments. 

  • The SPAA rulebook will benefit merchants by reducing costs, providing operational efficiencies and increasing security through Strong Customer Authentication (SCA).

TL;DR – Quick summary
  • The European Payments Council (EPC) has published the first SEPA Payment Account Access (SPAA) rulebook, including rules for Dynamic Recurring Payments.

  • This new scheme looks beyond PSD2 to new concepts, aiming to bring premium API-based services to life. It paves the way for more widespread adoption of open banking payments. 

  • The SPAA rulebook will benefit merchants by reducing costs, providing operational efficiencies and increasing security through Strong Customer Authentication (SCA).

The new SPAA rulebook dovetails with the European Commission’s proposed legislation for Instant Payments and gives consumers greater choice in how they pay. But the industry needs to champion it to ensure widespread adoption.

So what are the key points of the European Payments Council’s rulebook and what does it mean for the payments ecosystem? 

Here’s what it means

  • The SPAA scheme looks beyond ‘basic’ PSD2 services to new ‘premium’ opportunities powered by open banking. The rulebook aims to standardise both the approach and implementation of data exchange, which supports those opportunities, across asset holders (banks) and asset brokers (third-party providers).

  • The rulebook sets out the data framework needed to support new payment flows that range in complexity. SPAA supports simpler one-off payments and future-dated payments right through to dynamic recurring payments – the equivalent of the UK’s Variable Recurring Payments (VRP).

  • Unlike the UK, where the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) mandated VRP for sweeping use cases, all the services in this first version of the SPAA rulebook are currently optional.

  • In the near future, SPAA’s multi-stakeholder group will deliver: (1) a SPAA ‘minimum viable product’ (or set of services that participants in the scheme will need to support) and (2) the default fees the scheme will permit on the ‘assets’ that banks expose to third-party providers in addition for the use of the SPAA API itself.

  • The chance for banks and third-party providers to join the scheme as participants will open on 1 September 2023, allowing time to prepare their submissions ahead of the effective date of the scheme, 30 November 2023. 

The Tink Take

  • As part of the SPAA multi-stakeholder group (MSG), we are pleased to see the development of the first rulebook, and be part of creating a more competitive and innovative payments ecosystem. We like the broad range of open banking payments that SPAA presents, surpassing the current level of uses – such as supporting multi-counterparty payments to increase the effectiveness of marketplaces. Merchants of all types will see benefits of SPAA – reduced costs, increased efficiency and secure payments – and we’re eager to see the development of a ‘minimum viable product.’

  • If SPAA is adopted and appropriately supported by payment schemes, the EU may be poised to pass the UK as the market leader in open banking payments. The advances SPAA makes for frictionless Pay by Bank experiences across use cases, and support for innovative new models (such as payments to multiple counterparties) have the potential to bring savings and operational efficiencies to merchants – as well as security with new developments in Strong Customer Authentication (SCA).

  • The SPAA rulebook is a fantastic forward-looking scheme for how commerce of today and tomorrow will work. And it looks to provide a framework to support a new frontier of account-to-account payments for merchants. But it needs a strong payment scheme to support it. The data exchange for SPAA payments should be supported by wider adoption of Instant Payments – and this complements the European Commission’s recent proposed legislation.

  • Developing default asset fees may entice banks to join the scheme earlier, given commercial opportunities. But the SPAA MSG should scrutinise any fee proposal, and the base costs, against market expectations. In principle, SPAA payments should carry a fair-market value that is reflected in their pricing. Only then will the benefits of SPAA, such as the potential of Dynamic Recurring Payments to remove both friction and costs associated with direct debits, be realised for merchants.

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