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January 14, 2020

Payments industry agrees new SEPA Card Standards

The new release of the SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume integrates the latest regulatory and technological changes. 

The European Cards Stakeholders Group (ECSG), the industry association overseeing cards standardisation in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) has today published version 9.0 of the SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume (‘the Volume’).


This initiative, actively supported by all of the key stakeholders in the card payment ecosystem, will help ensure the interoperability and security of cards in Europe. The Volume achieves this through defining a standard set of requirements to enable an interoperable and scalable card and terminal infrastructure across SEPA, based on open international card standards.

Version 9.0 of the Volume is released to the industry following a 3-month public consultation. In addition to the feedback received during the consultation, updates to the books were made to accommodate the following;

• Conformance to new European regulations General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the second Payment Service Directive (PSD2) and the European Banking Authority Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) on Strong Costumer Authentication (SCA) and Common Secure Communication (CSC);

• Integration of global standards for card payments including Host Card Emulation, remote payments using EMV 3DS and a reference to the industry standards body Fast IDentity Online (FIDO);

• Contactless card acceptance at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs);

• The production of a separate Tokenisation Annex.

The Volume version 9.0 takes effect immediately for a three-year period.

Note: Book 3 “Data Elements” is currently under maintenance to integrate the new ISO 20022 ATICA Version 2 standard. A separate release cycle was therefore decided for this Book which will lead to a separate publication in September 2020.

July 25, 2019

Bulletin on RTS SCA Article 11 implementation

​ECSG Volume working groups were assigned by the Board to perform an analysis on the issues related to the implementation of RTS SCA for proximity low value amount transactions. An inventory of market implementations was collected and four possible transaction flows were identified (decline; switch interface; re-present card and enter PIN; enter pin without a second tap). Based on this analysis, it was decided to update Req. T77 in Book 2 and to publish an informative Bulletin on ECSG website before RTS SCA coming into force.

Public consultation - SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume v8.5 and Tokenisation Considerations for SEPA Card Payments

The European Cards Stakeholders Group (ECSG), the industry association in charge of cards standardisation in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), is today releasing version 8.5 of the SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume (the Volume) for a three-month public consultation. The Volume is considered a key document for the cards industry, with a goal of achieving cards standardisation, interoperability, and security in Europe.


Following the same timing and methodology as the Volume version 8.5 consultation, Tokenisation Considerations for SEPA Card Payments is also being published for consultation on the ECSG website. This document details the requirements or recommendations for the adoption and implementation of tokenisation in the SEPA region and includes references to global standards where available.


To ensure that the proposed documents truly reflect market needs, all stakeholders are invited to supply feedback on both consultations by 29 March 2019.


The three-month public consultation for the Volume is part of a regular planned cycle which ensures that the Volume is kept up-to-date with developments in card technology and regulation. An important update to the Acquirer-to-Issuer Card Messages (ATICA) Standard is not available in this cycle, so Book 3, on Data Elements, will undergo a separate consultation in 2019. However, subject to the timely availability of the ATICA Standard, the final version of Book 3 will be delivered as part of version 9.0 at the same time as all other Books in the Volume with no impact on the final publication deadline in December 2019 or January 2020. For the first time, the Volume Books – with the exception of Book 3 – will be published in versions with tracked changes. However, comments are also expected on the ‘clean’ published versions.


The main scope of the update for the Volume Books addresses regulatory and innovative aspects as well as performance updates as part of the standard Volume cycle. Below is a list of the main amendments applied to the Volume Books:


  • General updates relating to Compliance with European Regulations and Directives (the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2), the Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) on strong customer authentication (SCA) and secure open standards of communication (CSC) as well as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)).

  • Additions and clarifications to the functional requirements listed in Book 2 based on analysis of PSD2 and RTS SCA/CSC as well as the introduction of Consumer Device Cardholder Verification Method (CDCVM) and biometrics. New references to more recent and updated publications have been added for Mobile Contactless Card Applications and Mobile Devices. Information concerning language selection for contactless application selection has also been added, in addition to clarifications for initiating contactless transactions at automated teller machines (ATMs).

  • New security updates to Book 4, including descriptive sections and new security requirements for compliance with PSD2 and the RTS SCA/CSC, and an updated overview with related requirements for mobile contactless payments, particularly for Host Card Emulation (HCE)-based payments.

  • SEPA Cards Transaction flow now includes a section on “typical configurations for accepting card data”, migrated from Book 4.


As mentioned earlier, the ECSG has performed a separate initiative for documenting Tokenisation Considerations for SEPA Card Payments. This document should be considered separate to the Volume Books although it is subject to the same consultation period. It addresses the topic of tokenisation from angles deemed of interest to ECSG members:


  • A holistic approach that covers different tokenisation models (issuer, acquirer, merchant).

  • A view on both payment and non-payment tokens.

  • Adoption of global standards and guidelines from EMVCo and PCI, among others.


  • Keep open to other existing payment token solutions such as ‘alternate PAN’ or ‘dynamic’ virtual numbers.


  • Considerations about the Token Service Provider (resulting in the adoption of a Business Principle).


  • Retailer needs following the introduction of tokenisation, and in particular, considerations around the EMVCo Payment Account Reference (PAR) data element.


  • Clarifying the flexibility needed around PAR generation and:

    • exploring the links between co-badging and tokenisation,

    • European regulatory considerations, especially GDPR.

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