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Sepa Cards Framework revoked as EMV acceptance almost complete in EU

The Sepa Cards Framework (SCF) is being retired after 10 years, during which time it has seen EMV card acceptance in Sepa countries grow from 10 per cent in 2004 to almost 100 per cent in 2015.

The SCF is a document owned by the European Payments Council (EPC), which paved the way for harmonised acceptance of all cards by merchants in the EU. It will be revoked as of 1 January 2016.

Claude Brun, Chair of the EPC Cards Working Group, writes that the SCF, first created in 2005, has been “one of the founding industry initiatives that helped to expand the acceptance and coverage of cards in Sepa”. Only 18 per cent of cards issued in the EU in 2004 were EMV-compliant and only 10 per cent of points of sale and ATM terminals were able to read the chip embedded in the cards.

Card transactions accounted for 46 per cent of non-cash payments in the EU in 2014. They grew by 10 per cent each year between 2000 and 2012.

The goal of SCF was to create commitment from card issuers, acquirers and schemes for general purpose EMV cards, covering interoperability, technical standards and scheme licensing arrangements.

Brun states that the increasingly regulated payments environment has made the SCF out-dated. It has been replaced by several higher-ranking measures, namely:

  • the Card Interchange Fee Regulation, approved in April 2015; and
  • the Cards Stakeholders Group (CSG).

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