The creation of a Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA) aims at encouraging the integration of the European market by facilitating the cross border electronic payments in euro between the countries participating in SEPA by making them cheap and secure similar to the existing national payments. In SEPA banks’ clients may perform SEPA credit transfers /SCT/, SEPA direct debits – SDD Core and B2B SDD as well as Instant Credit Transfers /SCT Inst/ in euro.
The Association of Banks in Bulgaria /ABB/ is an associated member of the European Payment Council /EPC/, which has a leading role for the participation of the payment service providers in the SEPA schemes. The ABB has a representative in the Scheme Evolution and Maintenance Working Group at the EPC as well as at the Payment Systems Committee at the European Banking Federation /EBF/ where the ABB is a full member. A lot of information on SEPA instruments, standards and infrastructures for payments and procedures for the banks’ adherence to SEPA is published on the Internet sites of the ECB, EPC and EBF.
As of the beginning of 2008 the EPC prepares and maintains an updated register of the participants in the SEPA schemes – banks and non-bank payments institutions. All the Bulgarian banks are included in the SCT Register of participants maintained by the EPC. Since November 2009 the SEPA direct debit scheme has started and it has been established in two varieties – Core SDD scheme and B2B SDD scheme. Currently, only one bank is included in the B2B SDD Register of Participants. SEPA direct debits are not a popular instrument in Bulgaria and there is not significant interest towards those instruments. As a whole, those instruments are not developed and offered by the Bulgarian banks.
As of 21st of November 2017 instant SEPA credit transfer scheme /SCT Inst/ was initiated. These transfers are performed on the principle 24/7/365, i.e. they can be performed each day of the year, 24 hours during the day. The maximum amount of these transfers is 15 000 EUR and the time for transaction is 10 seconds. The EPC has taken a decision to make a review each year and when it is necessary to revise the maximum amount of those transactions as well as the time for their execution.
In order to declare their participation in the SEPA schemes the banks should fill in the adherence pack, which can be downloaded from the EPC website. The adherence pack contains Adherence Agreement, Schedule and Legal Opinion as they should be sent by the banks in two original copies to the National Adherence Support Organization (NASO) at the ABB or directly to the EPC.
It is mandatory the Legal Opinion to be signed by an internal or external counsel (lawyer). The date on the Legal Opinion should coincide with the date on the Adherence Agreement or it should be a later date than the date on the Adherence Agreement. If the date on the Legal Opinion is earlier than the date on the Adherence Agreement the adherence pack is not considered valid.
NASO reviews the adherence pack for the necessary stamps and signatures and sends it to the EPC. The Compliance and Adherence Committee at the EPC takes the final decision for the adherence to the SEPA schemes. The EPC announces on its Internet site a timeframe for the banks that are willing to adhere to the SEPA schemes.
The National Adherence Support Organization /NASO/ at the ABB facilitates banks in their adherence to SEPA by consulting them on different issues in relation to their participation in the schemes and communicates with the EPC, mainly on issues related with transmitting the adherence pack. Banks that are members of the ABB may send questions to the NASO at the ABB regarding their adherence to the SEPA schemes on the following e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org