Accession to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) directs the banking system of San Marino to wards the internationalisation, while at the same time, making it possible for households, companies and the public administration to benefit from more efficient payment services, aligned to European standards.
1. The strategic value of accession to SEPA
Accession to SEPA represents Europe's recognition of the progress made by the Republic of San Marino and the professionalism of the San Marinese stakeholders involved in the accession process.
The potential offered by SEPA standards, linked to the management of a single payment account to make wire transfers and debits at a pan-European level, define a new scenario and consolidate the possibility of integrating our banking and financial system with European capital markets.
Less and more certain times for the execution of wire transfers, lowering the costs for cross borders wire transfers, the possibility of using the account opened with the bank in San Marino to effect debit entries required by European invoicing entities wherever these may be located, the efficient management of payments for the undertakings of San Marino that invoice clients resident in the other SEPA countries, define a new scenario which sees the participation of San Marino - on a par with the other countries in the European Union and European Economic Area - right from the outset.
2. SEPA payment instruments
2.1 The SEPA Credit Transfer
As from 1 February 2014, the SEPA (SCT) credit transfer has been used to effect payments to and from the SEPA area. This is characterised by a pre-set execution time of 1 business day.
The SEPA transfer is an instrument that is harmonised at European level, and represents a basic service that intermediaries can supplement with additional functions.
So that the conditions relating to customers are explicit and transparent, commissions applied by intermediaries cannot be deducted from the transfer amount, but must be debited separately: the transfer amount is therefore credited in full without any deductions by the intermediaries processing the transaction.
The SEPA transfer uses an IBAN code (International Bank Account Number). This makes it possible to unequivocally identify the customer's account held at a financial institution, and has been in use in San Marino for several years now.
To put in place a SEPA transfer, the ordering customer must provide his/her bank with the beneficiary's IBAN and BIC codes. In order to simplify the transaction further, certain banks do not ask for the BIC code, but arrange this themselves. Obtaining one's IBAN code is very simple: it always appears on the bank statement, and can be requested at any time from one's bank.
The IBAN guarantees that the processing of transactions are fully computerised, and this is why one needs to pay special attention when providing this code, which is more important than any other information provided (e.g. the beneficiary's personal details).
2.2 The SEPA Direct Debit
SEPA Direct Debits are instruments that allow a creditor to order a debit to be processed on his/her bank account in favour of a debtor's account (held at the same bank or a different bank), based on a mandate signed by the debtor customer prior to the transactions beginning and issued to the creditor him/herself. The SEPA Direct Debit mandate can refer to individual transactions or transactions in series. The European Payments Council has made provision for two distinctive direct debit Schemes, one referred to as the CORE scheme has been designed for relations between the creditor business and consumer payee, even though it can also be used by business payees, and a specific scheme for the typical needs relating to relations between businesses (B2B).
2.2.1 The SEPA Direct Debit Mandate
This is the contract whereby the debtor provides two distinctive authorisations:
The SEPA mandate never shows the amount for the transaction, in both the authorisations relating to a single transaction and those for a series of ongoing transactions. The basic information contained in the SEPA Mandate includes:
In the SEPA Direct Debit Schemes, the Mandate signed by the debtor must always be issued to the creditor, who is responsible for filing this as proof of the consent provided by the debtor in relation to the transactions, in the event of possible disputes.
The Schemes also allow for the mandate to be cancelled, or possible changes to be made to the content, for example, a change in the account to be debited, must be agreed on between the creditor and debtor.
The CORE Direct Debit Scheme provides greater protection to the debtor, in the form of the right to a refund even in the case of authorised transactions, which can be implemented within 8 weeks from the debit date.
Banks are not obliged to ask for the reasons underlying the refund application made by the debtor, but must only process this. In other words, even if the debtor has signed the authorisation mandate, in the event of an incorrect amount being debited, the debtor can exercise his/her right to a refund, assuming full responsibility in this regard.