SEPA - Single Euro Payments Area

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A new era for European payments

The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) aims to harmonise the process of paying for goods and services in Europe so that businesses and consumers can make a cross-border purchase within the region as easily as they can domestically.

New file format for payments in euro

SEPA requires all organisations submitting bulk credit transfers denominated in EUR to use ISO XML 20022 payment formats. 

All customers shall adhere to the SEPA End Date Regulation and must send outgoing file-based EUR transactions (SEPA credit transfers) in ISO 20022 XML.

All EUR denominated credit transfers need to be replaced by SEPA instruments by 31 October 2016 in non-EUR countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Norway. 

What is SEPA? Where do you need to be by 31 October 2016? What is SEPA?

What is SEPA?

SEPA is a step towards a single, integrated European market, which allows the free flow of goods and services across the region.

SEPA will ensure that customers and companies are able to place and receive non-cash euro payments with the same terms and conditions regardless of whether the payment is domestic or cross-border. At the same time, SEPA aims to introduce more efficient and secure payment instruments and methods into the European market. To support this, banks must establish efficient, modern and low-cost payment mechanisms.

SEPA is the largest payments initiative ever undertaken within Europe. It affects the 28 EU Member States, plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, Switzerland, San Marino and Monaco.


  • People and businesses will have transparency into pricing and fees for payments. 
  • Harmonised and simplified payment processes will be faster and result in cost reductions. 
  • Businesses can reduce the number of bank accounts necessary to do business across Europe.
  • The rationalisation of business bank accounts will simplify liquidity management.

SEPA will help companies simplify their liquidity management and centralise payment processing. Small and medium-sized firms benefit from being able to concentrate all their financial services into a single bank. Large companies, with complex payment needs, can reduce their number of cash management banks. That in turn enables them to reduce the number of accounts, thus harmonising and simplifying payment services, resulting in more reliable and efficient payment processes.

SEPA payments are based upon new global standards (ISO 20022) making them much more adaptable to today's technology. These new standards can provide a wider set of structured message information along with the payment and thereby increase the efficiency in end-to-end automation of payments for all users.

SEPA will also increase opportunities for innovation and competition in payments.

Are you ready for SEPA?

SEPA is an opportunity for your business. The new common payment area could impact your cash management arrangements, giving you greater visibility over your European cash positions. It could allow you to centralise your payments.

SEPA checklist:

  • Analyse your cash flow and payment practices and examine how SEPA will affect them.
  • Ensure that you have your International Bank Account Number (IBAN) with your bank.
  • Confirm that all of your company's invoices and other documentation state your bank requisites: the company's own IBAN and BIC.
  • Verify all invoices issued by your business partners contain IBAN and BIC.
  • Check that your company's ERP systems are compatible with ISO 20022.

Your next steps 

Nordea can provide you with deep expertise on SEPA, explaining how your company can:

  • Optimise your bank account structure.
  • Centralise your payments and liquidity management.
  • Implement SEPA Direct Debit services.

In order for you to get accurate information on SEPA payments and accounts suitable for your needs, we recommend that you contact your local adviser in Nordea.

Where do you need to be by 31 October 2016?

Where do you need to be by 31 October 2016?

You need to ensure that your company will meet the new requirements.

In order for you to get accurate information on SEPA payments and accounts suitable for your needs, we recommend that you contact your local adviser in Nordea.

Nordea instructs all corporate customers  to either start using ISO 20022 XML format (version 3) for file based EUR payments or to do EUR payments manually in their netbank.

If you continue sending file based EUR payments via non-compliant services you are in breach with the European Union SEPA End Date regulation.