Cashless payments in the European Union makes international commerce more accessible, which is the goal of the SEPA, or the Single Euro Payments Area. SEPA sets banking standards for direct debiting of Euro bank accounts in the region. Its direct debit system benefits businesses with customers in the EU, especially companies with recurring billing.
How to make payments with SEPA Direct Debit
- At the checkout screen of the merchant’s website, the customer must select SEPA Direct Debit as the payment option. This action will take him to a hosted payment page.
- Next, the customer must provide his full name and account number in IBAN format. This has the country code, check digits, and the user’s Basic Bank Account Number.
- Once the bank details are verified, the customer will see a window notifying him that the transaction is complete.
Disputing a SEPA transaction is possible, and creditors maintain a “no questions asked” policy up to a point. SEPA automatically returns debit transactions to the customer if they make the dispute within eight weeks of the charge.
After eight weeks, the customer may only dispute the payment if it is considered not authorized. In this case, the customer’s bank gets the mandate that the customer approved of the transaction. The bank also has the discretionary power to provide the customer with a refund.
If the customer’s bank is unable to debit the account because of insufficient funds or because it is frozen, the bank may reclaim the payment through a dispute as well. Decisions on SEPA Direct Debit disputes are final and may no longer be appealed.
Refunds of SEPA transactions
Refunds are only possible with SEPA within 180 days from the date of the charge. Refunds require three to four business days, and it may only be processed after the payment has been completed. If a merchant accidentally debits a customer, he should contact them immediately to prevent a dispute.
Refunds are not labeled as such when SEPA deposits money back to the buyer’s account. They process it as credit, and they include a reference to the original payment.
When issuing a refund, always inform customers that it takes five business days for the funds to clear. Long settlement periods mean a risk for confusion among the customer, the bank, and the merchant. For example, the customer might contact both his bank and the seller to dispute a transaction. If the seller issues a refund while the bank does the same, the customer might end up with two repayments for the same item.
What is a SEPA creditor identifier?
EU businesses need a SEPA creditor identifier, a uniform and standardized number that identifies the creditor clearly. Companies may have multiple creditor identifiers, but each one is unique and lets your customers locate their debit records easily on their transaction history.
A creditor identifier also helps reduce disputed payments. You can request online for an identifier from your merchant bank. However, sellers need to specify that they are not seeking for the bank to process SEPA payments for them.
SEPA Direct Debit allows EU-based consumers to access their funds expediently. Integrating this payment method lets you provide more options to consumers from SEPA countries like France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and more.
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