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Single Euro Payments Area
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SEPA is a major initiative launched by the European Union in January 2009. It aims to create a new single "domestic" market for euro payments across the 31 country SEPA region (namely, the EU 27 Member States, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), which eliminates distinctions between cross-border and national transactions.

As a consequence, the face of the European payments industry is rapidly changing, as competition increases and new innovative products come on stream, helping consumers and Merchants to make and receive payments more efficiently, conveniently and securely.

In many respects, this represents the next logical step in the European Union’s journey towards creating a fully integrated single market for goods and services, by supporting its common currency (the euro) with the creation of a single market for payment services.

The benefits for both consumers and Merchants will be significant.

Consumers will be able to send and receive euro payments anywhere within the SEPA region and will be able to manage their finances from a single domestic euro account in their home country. This means, for example, that they will be able to pay for services obtained in other countries, such as paying for utility bills or maintenance on a property abroad, without the inconvenience of opening a separate overseas account.

Merchants will also benefit as they will be able to accept Cards issued anywhere in the SEPA region. In addition, they will be able to operate one single point-of-sale terminal capable of accepting all SEPA Cards and will be charged the same standard transaction fee for both domestic and cross-border euro Card transactions within the SEPA region.

American Express and SEPA

American Express is fully committed to playing its part in helping to ensure SEPA becomes a reality so that our Cardmembers and Merchants can benefit from a new single “domestic” market for payment services throughout the SEPA region.

In fact, we have long operated our business in a manner consistent with SEPA’s core principles, as our network is already fully integrated across the SEPA region; we make no distinction between national and cross-border payments; and there are no technical, legal, or commercial barriers to Card acceptance and Card usage among the national markets on the American Express network.

Underlining our commitment to SEPA, we have also pledged to meet several additional objectives, including:

  • Continuing to ensure our Cards are usable and interoperable across borders;
  • Supporting the development of common pan-European technical standards, for example, point-of-sale interoperability and security;
  • Issuing proprietary EMV chip Cards throughout Europe and continuing to enable EMV chip Card transactions across our network;
  • Helping to establish a European anti-fraud database designed to improve protection for consumers and Merchants;
  • Continuing to ensure our standard Merchant transaction pricing does not distinguish between domestic and cross-border payments.
These represent just some of the commitments contained in our SEPA Declaration, which outlines our framework and principles for supporting SEPA.

The creation of SEPA promises to bring huge benefits to consumers and Merchants alike.

Together with other key stakeholders, American Express will continue to play a constructive role in helping to support the successful implementation of SEPA.

Any questions?

If you need any further guidance on the terms and conditions of your account, please call Merchant Customer Services.

If you want to know more, download our SEPA Declaration where you will find answers to many commonly asked questions.
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