SEPA is part of the European harmonisation process which has lead to, for example, the common euro currency.
Previously payment practices and payment transfer speed varied considerably by European country and EU member state, which was considered to restrict the free movement of EU citizens and trade of European businesses as well as to weaken Europe's competitiveness.
The Single Euro Payments Area, SEPA, was set to remove these barriers and benefit all European users of payment services.
Which countries form SEPA?
The SEPA area consists of the following 34 countries:
- EU member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom
- EEA countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Monaco and San Marino
Which banks participate in SEPA?
Almost all banks in the SEPA area, excluding investment banks, and all Finnish banks are included in SEPA.
What are SEPA services?
SEPA services include SEPA credit transfer, SEPA direct debit and acceptance of payments with international chip cards. SEPA payment is a product offered by OP Financial Group.
Which currencies are included in SEPA?
SEPA services are always in euros.
What is a SEPA payment?
SEPA payment is OP's SEPA Credit Transfer compliant credit transfer that can be used for making any type of euro payment within the SEPA area.
A SEPA Credit Transfer always includes the bank accounts of the payer and payee in the international IBAN format and the payee's bank in the BIC code format. IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number and BIC for Bank Identifier Code.
Banks operating in Finland have agreed on authentication of a domestic reference and its transfer to the payee in SEPA Credit Transfers.
Transfer speed of SEPA payments
A SEPA Credit Transfer must be completed at the latest during the day following the payment order.
Payment practices within SEPA
In Finland, payment transfers are of high quality and most payments are either credit transfers or card payments. Many individuals as well as businesses engaging in European trade are quite familiar with the acronyms IBAN and BIC.
On a European scale, SEPA has harmonised country-specific payment practices. While cheques and cash might still be widely used in some SEPA countries, people in Finland have the habit of using card payments and credit transfers. Moreover, a credit transfer from one bank's account to another bank's account has been easy in Finland for a long time. The price of a credit transfer, too, used to vary significantly.
SEPA has narrowed such divergences in European payment practices since it enables efficient services functioning the same way in each SEPA country. Payments are transferred according to common rules and within a defined time frame.
SEPA for private customers
With SEPA payment you can make a payment to any SEPA country, also to Finland, as well as to OP Financial Group. You just need to have the payee's bank details in the international format.
There are no charges or costs for using SEPA payments.
SEPA for companies
A company should request its business partners, such as suppliers, to provide their bank details in the IBAN and BIC formats.
Larger companies can streamline their payment transfer management processes, since payments to Finland and to the rest of the SEPA area countries can be transferred the same way, through SEPA payments, and not through domestic and international payments as before. Likewise, companies can receive all euro payments coming from the entire SEPA area into their domestic account.
For further information about SEPA, see Finance Finland's website which also includes a SEPA Credit Transfer form template.