The purpose of the initiative known as eSEPA, which covers electronic and mobile payments (e-payments and m-payments) is to offer available channels for payment within the SEPA via the internet and mobile phones. Europe-wide e-payment and m-payment services will provide users with simple, attractive and secure methods of payment.
The concept of e-payments covers payments initiated by the payer (buyer) via the merchant’s website. After selecting the relevant method of payment for an online purchase, buyers are redirected to their electronic bank, where they merely confirm an automatically generated payment order (on the basis of data pre-entered by the buyer online). The definition does not distinguish between the channels used to initiate the payment (e.g. a laptop, a mobile phone) as long as the transfer of the data for the execution and confirmation of the payment proceeds via the internet.
M-payments are payments where a mobile telephone is used as the initiation channel for payment, when the data for the execution and confirmation of a payment is transmitted via mobile technologies intended for communication and data transfer (the definition does not include, for example, access to an e-bank via a mobile phone). The EPC processes mobile remote payments and mobile contactless payments (also known as mobile proximity payments).
In the former case, payments are made and received independently of the physical distance between the payer and the payee (e.g. through protocols for exchanging SMSs). Proximity payments are based on the use of near-field communication technology, where the payment is made at a physical POS by bringing the mobile phone close to a reader specially designed for that purpose.
The core SEPA pan-European payment products and solutions, which represent a platform for the development and implementation of e-payment and m-payment services of a pan-European nature, are already established. In certain European countries there are also e-payment and m-payment solutions that function only with a limited reach inside the country. Development in this area is therefore oriented towards facilitating access to these innovative payment services on a cross-border basis.
The EPC has not decided to create a pan-European scheme for e-payments and m-payments, but has opted for a softer approach to the creation of basic guidelines, compliance with which will ensure compatibility between solutions and therefore the implementation of e-payment and m-payment services within the widest possible geographical area.