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The primary focus of the work of the ECSG is the 'SEPA Cards Standardisation Volume'. Developed and agreed by all relevant sectors active for card payments in Europe it demonstrates a strong self-commitment of the European stakeholders within the card payment ecosystem and is well recognised by the European Central Bank and the European Commission.

Purpose of the VOLUME

In accordance with the vision of Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), the purpose of The Volume is to enable card payment standardisation and promote interoperability of card transactions in a secure environment throughout the SEPA region. 

The VOLUME aims to do this by defining a set of harmonised SEPA requirements (’SEPA Card Standards’) applicable to card-based payments, in both face to face and remote environments. 


Whilst the term ‘Cards’ is used, these requirements apply equally to all transactions where a card-based payment instrument is used, regardless of the form factor.

The SEPA Cards Standards of the VOLUME represent the building blocks on which market participants will be able to develop detailed implementation specifications to meet the needs of the various market participants in a competitive environment.

Main objectives of the volume

  • CONSUMERS are able to make card payments and withdraw cash throughout SEPA, with the same ease and convenience as in their home country. Thus, they benefit from wider and harmonised acceptance of their cards within SEPA. Cards standardisation leads to increased security, transparency and indirect cost reduction


  • A wider acceptance of cards across SEPA increases the business opportunities for MERCHANTS for both physical and virtual points of sale. They benefit from a more competitive acquiring and terminal market and are able to choose which card schemes to accept and from which acquirer


  • The CARD INDUSTRY (card schemes, payment service providers, merchants...) can better plan ahead their investments, such as card payment terminals and can benefit from synergies based on the standardised requirements of the VOLUME. It allows investment decisions and implementation of the cards industry based on stable SEPA-wide requirements


Structure of the VOLUME


The VOLUME is structured as a set of Books, each describing an important aspect of the harmonised requirements




The latest version of the VOLUME is version 10.0 and can be found here.

Life cycle of the volume


A new release of the Volume is published every three years:

  • Year 1 – The new life cycle workplan is agreed initiating the volume update process including:

  • Inclusion of the previous consultation comments deemed ‘for later’ to be addressed

  • Innovation aspects are introduced after an assessment process of the INNO ET

  • Year 2 – Update of the affected books in preparation of public consultation

  • Year 3 – Public consultation, feedback analysis and final version publication


In between the 3-years cycle, the ECSG may publish ‘Bulletins’ highlighting the specific changes that are necessary for one Book or another before the publication of the next volume release version.

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