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Frequently asked questions

1. What is SEPA?
2. When was SEPA created?
3. Which countries belong to SEPA?
4. Who is affected by SEPA?
5. Why was SEPA created?
6. Which are the main products affected by SEPA and benefiting consumers?
7. What are the benefits that consumers gain through SEPA?
8. What are the charging options available for SEPA transactions?
9. Is it possible to execute payment transactions with charging option BEN?
10. Is there uniform pricing in all participating countries due to SEPA?
11. Which banking products are affected by the recent Regulation 260/ 2012?
12. Are the changes introduced to banking products by Regulation 260/ 2012 mandatory?
13. What changes does Regulation 260/ 2012 introduce to banking products for private customers (individuals)?
14. What changes does Regulation 260/ 2012 introduce to banking products for businesses?
15. Which Alpha Bank products are affected by Regulation 260/ 2012?
16. Do transactions in cash have to comply with Regulation 260/ 2012?
17. Do transactions with payment cards have to comply with Regulation 260/ 2012?
18. If a business is an Alpha Express Banking subscriber and makes use of the Alpha Bank Mass Payments Service, should it proceed to convert files to ISO 20022 XML format?
19. If a business which is not an Alpha Express Banking subscriber wishes to exchange ISO 20022 XML files format can the Bank offer this service?
20. Via which channels may a business send to the Bank interbank mass payment files?
21. Can we contact Alpha Bank for more details on the XML file specifications or sample files?

 

1. What is SEPA?

SEPA (Single European Payments Area) is the payments area in the European Union (EU) where consumers, businesses and other economic actors can make and receive payments in euro under a set of common and uniform rules.

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2. When was SEPA created?

SEPA was created with the introduction of the euro in the year 2002, with the aim of creating an integrated European infrastructure and a uniform regulatory framework for payment issues.

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3. Which countries belong to SEPA?

European Union (EU) Euro area countries (18 countries):
Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain.
European Union (EU) Member States with currencies other than the euro (10 countries):
Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Sweden, United Kingdom.
Non-EU countries
Iceland, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Norway, Switzerland.
Territories (where European legislation applies):
Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guyana, Reunion island, Gibraltar, The Azores, Madeira, Canary islands, Aaland islands, San Marino, Mayotte, St Barts, St Martin, St Peter and Michael islands.

For an updated list of SEPA countries and Territories click here.

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4. Who is affected by SEPA?

SEPA affects credit institutions (banks), clearing and settlement systems, businesses, consumers, State authorities and Public Administration organisations.

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5. Why was SEPA created?

SEPA was created with the aim of developing an integrated European market for payments.

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6. Which are the main products affected by SEPA and benefiting consumers?

The main SEPA products are the SEPA Credit Transfers and the SEPA Direct Debits, carried out in Euro.

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7. What are the benefits that consumers gain through SEPA?

The benefits that consumers gain through SEPA, either as payers or as payees, are the following:

  • Convenient use - Automated procedure - Uniformity of technical rules
  • Convenience, security and fast payments
  • Uniformity regarding the date on which funds become available (value date), with possibilities for further arrangements - No maximum amount limit for payments

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8. What are the charging options available for SEPA transactions?

Payment orders can be marked as SHA (for shared). Meaning, the payer and the payee, each pays the charges applied by the bank that serves them.

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9. Is it possible to execute payment transactions with charging option BEN?

No, this is not possible.

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10. Is there uniform pricing in all participating countries due to SEPA?

Yes, based on the Banks Charges Catalogue.

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11. Which banking products are affected by the recent Regulation 260/ 2012?

The Regulation affects payment orders (credit transfers) and collections (direct debits).

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12. Are the changes introduced to banking products by Regulation 260/ 2012 mandatory?

Yes, the changes are mandatory for all (see Question 4) and are not adopted on a voluntary basis

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13. What changes does Regulation 260/ 2012 introduce to banking products for private customers (individuals)?

  • Use-inclusion of the IBAN (International Bank Account Number) has become mandatory, even for accounts held with the same Bank
  • The Remittance Info field allows for a maximum length of 140 characters
  • As of 1.2.2016, the mandatory use of the Bank Identification Code (BIC) is cancelled for SEPA payments

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14. What changes does Regulation 260/ 2012 introduce to banking products for businesses?

  1. Use-inclusion of the IBAN (International Bank Account Number) has become mandatory, even for accounts held with the same Bank
  2. Remittance Info field allows for a maximum length of 140 characters
  3. As of 1.2.2016 use of the ISO 20022 XML format in credit transfer and direct debit files becomes mandatory
  4. As of 1.2.2016, the mandatory use of the Bank Identification Code (BIC) for SEPA payments is cancelled

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15. Which Alpha Bank products are affected by Regulation 260/ 2012?

The Regulation affects the following Alpha Bank products, whether these are offered to an individual or to a business:
A) Payment orders (credit transfers) via Branch network , Alternative channels (ALPHA WEB BANKING/ ALPHA MOBILE BANKING) and other Bank channels:

  • Individual internal payments within the Bank (outgoing)
  •  Individual interbank payments (outgoing)
  • Payroll Payment with submission of a relevant file by the businesses ONLY, through the following services:
    • ALPHA EXPRESS BANKING
    • ALPHA BANK FILE TRANSFER
  •   Interbank or Internal mass payments within the Bank with submission of a relevant file by the businesses, through the following services:
    • ALPHA EXPRESS BANKING
    • ALPHA BANK FILE TRANSFER

 
B) Collections (direct debits)

  • Colletions ( Direct Debits) with submission of a payments file by JCC Payment Systems   Ltd on behalf of the businesses, with the Bank acting as:
    • Debtor Bank (or)
    • Creditor Bank

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16. Do transactions in cash have to comply with Regulation 260/ 2012?

No, they do not have to comply with the Regulation.

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17. Do transactions with payment cards have to comply with Regulation 260/ 2012?

No, they do not have to comply with the Regulation.

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18. If a business is an Alpha Express Banking subscriber and makes use of the Alpha Bank Mass Payments Service, should it proceed to convert files to ISO 20022 XML format?

If a business is an Alpha Express Banking subscriber and uses the Alpha Bank Mass Payment Service (via Alpha Bank File Transfer FTP), it can make use of the current agreed file format when transmitting via Alpha Express Banking.

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19. If a business which is not an Alpha Express Banking subscriber wishes to exchange ISO 20022 XML files format can the Bank offer this service?

Yes the business may use files in ISO 20022 XML format via the Alpha Bank File Transfer in accordance with the guidelines provided by the bank.

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20. Via which channels may a business send to the Bank interbank mass payment files?

A business may send interbank/ intrabank mass payment files via:

  • Alpha Web Banking
  • Alpha Bank File Transfer

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21. Can we contact Alpha Bank for more details on the XML file specifications or sample files?

Yes for more information on the file specifications,  sample XML files or testing  please contact us via email to IT@alphabank.com.cy

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