SEPA card payments

The foundation for the SEPA-compliant use of payment cards is the "SEPA Cards Framework" issued by the European Payments Council.

It proposes the framework for the use of debit and credit cards for cashless payments at the point of sale (POS) and for cash withdrawals at ATMs in euro.

Stipulated among the framework is that:

  • the card schemes are to enable market access to all interested parties at the same conditions;
  • the card schemes must ensure the separation between license and brand management and the actual processing of transactions;
  • chip technology based on the EMV standard (use of PIN & chip) will be used both for cards and terminals in order to prevent card misuse;
  • multilateral interchange agreements will be established between the issuers and acquirers for the compensation of services.

Both the large international chard schemes, MasterCard and Visa, are entirely committed to developing and making available SEPA-compliant systems. MasterCard adapted the SEPA specifications in the previously existing Maestro system and will introduce Maestro licenses applicable for SEPA with the appropriate system rules. Visa has created a new debit system applicable through SEPA named V PAY.

SEPA card payments in Switzerland

Although the SEPA requirements apply only for euro transactions for the time being and Switzerland is presently only marginally affected, the Swiss financial center is still impacted by developments in the SEPA. It is important for Switzerland to ensure the SEPA compatibility of its national payment systems. With the switch to Maestro as a national debit system and the completed migration to EMV, the Swiss banks have laid excellent foundations.


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