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We are a bit geeky when it comes to payment technology, but the thing that excites us the most is helping to grow your business – so are some useful tips from us to you.

If there’s a topic we’ve missed, let us know, and we will be happy to dive into it.

What is the SEPA payment method?

If you need information about SEPA euro payments and transactions, look no further. Continue reading to discover more about SEPA, including:

  • The definition of SEPA payments
  • How do SEPA payments work?
  • Types of SEPA transactions
  • The benefits of SEPA payment transfers
  • Euro SEPA countries, network, and area

What does SEPA mean?

SEPA stands for single European payment area and is a payment system that allows customers to make secure cashless credit transfers and direct debit euro payments to countries in the European Union (EU), plus some non-EU members. SEPA payments were introduced for euro credit transfers in 2008, then euro direct debits in 2009, and finally, the SEPA payments method was fully implemented for credit and debit payments in 2014.

How does SEPA work?

SEPA’s aim is to simplify payment methods within and across EU member countries, and it works by unifying banking standards to allow for the direct debiting of every euro bank account within the SEPA area.

The SEPA transfer process works just like any other domestic bank transfer. Imagine you live in France and want to send 500 euros to your friend Alex in Italy. In this case, both countries are members of the EU, and both nations use the euro currency, meaning that both sending and receiving banks are part of SEPA. When you start the transfer, your bank will debit 500 euros directly from your account and then credit Alex’s commercial account held with the sender’s bank by 500 euros.

Alex’s bank will then credit his personal account with 500 euros. Under the SEPA payment process, there are no exchange, processing, or any other associated fees or charges, as both banks “behave” as if they’re in the same country. If a currency exchange method is required for bank accounts not held in euros, any conversion fees or costs will be at the discretion of both banks.

To complete most SEPA euro payments, you will need the recipient’s IBAN and confirmation that the bank you’re sending money to is a member of the SEPA payments scheme.

As a one-stop payment platform, Fondy understands the need for businesses and online commerce gateways to be flexible and accept various payment methods, such as local debit cards and credit cards. Check out our About Fondy page online and discover more about us, including our API payments technology.

Types of single European payments area transactions

There are different types of euro SEPA transactions. These generally depend on whether or not you’re a business customer or the amount and how frequently you need to process payments in the SEPA eurozone. These euro transaction methods are:

  • SEPA credit transfer payments – a SEPA credit transfer is a transaction that can be one-off or recurring in nature. These payments usually involve one debiting the payer’s account and crediting the payee’s account with a specified euro amount. Such transfers are useful for payment methods like payroll, invoices from suppliers, top-up cards, and subscription-based services.
  • SEPA instant credit transfer payments – SEPA instant credit transfers, as the name suggests, provide instant payments of up to 15,000 euros, often in less than 10 seconds. Unlike a regular SEPA credit transfer, SEPA instant credit euro payments are only available in eight countries, including Austria, Estonia, Germany, and Spain.

SEPA direct debit payment

SEPA direct debit payment systems allow creditors and merchants to debit a customer’s bank account, provided they have a valid mandate or payment authorisation to allow the merchant to withdraw the money. SEPA direct debit is only available in euros and requires the payer’s IBAN to collect a SEPA payment. SEPA direct debit is a suitable way to make recurring card payments, such as household utilities like energy providers, rent payments, and subscription invoices. SEPA direct debit comprises two schemes:

  1. Core direct debit payments scheme.
  2. Business-to-business (B2B) direct debit payments scheme.

The core direct debit scheme is mandatory for all SEPA banks, while the B2B direct debit method is only available to merchants collecting payments from other businesses.

What are the differences between SEPA direct debit core and direct debit B2B payments?

The main differences separating SEPA direct debit core transactions and SEPA direct debit business payments method are:

  • Direct debit B2B schemes are for businesses, while the core scheme is accepted for both individuals and businesses.
  • Banks are not obliged to accept SEPA direct debit B2B as acceptance of this payment method is not mandatory.
  • With the direct debit core payments scheme, the payee has to submit the request at least 5 working days before the payment date and at least 2 days. On the other hand, under the SEPA B2B scheme, the request has to be submitted one working day before the payment date.
  • The direct debit B2B scheme requires the debtor’s permission before any direct debit payment is made.
  • Direct debit B2B scheme customers are not entitled to refunds. On the other hand, core scheme customers can request a refund within two months for authorised collections and 13 months for unauthorised card collections.

What’s the difference between SEPA payments and SWIFT transfers?

While SWIFT transfers help move money across the globe, SEPA payments can only be made within the SEPA payment zone or area. Additionally, SWIFT transfers can be debited and credited in numerous currencies, whereas SEPA transfers can only be debited and credited in euros alone. Lastly, SEPA transfers are usually free, but accepting to use of SWIFT transfers usually comes with hefty card processing fees or charges.

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The benefits of SEPA euro transfers

The main advantages of SEPA euro payments are their simplicity. That’s because SEPA transactions allow businesses and individuals to use a single payment account to make euro payments across the SEPA zone. The only disadvantage is that SEPA euro transfers are only available in 36 countries. That said, the other major benefits of SEPA payment transfers are:

  • SEPA transfers are usually free, like most domestic bank transfers.
  • SEPA payments allow frictionless cross-border bank transfers in most of Europe.
  • SEPA euro payments are fast and oftentimes instantaneous.
  • SEPA transfers have a transparent fee structure, i.e., no hidden fees or costs.
  • SEPA payments, such as the B2B direct debit scheme, encourage European market business opportunities.

SEPA countries, payment network, and area

SEPA consists of 36 euro countries, including all 27 member countries of the EU, plus a number of non-EU countries such as:








San Marino













Vatican City




Czech Republic







United Kingdom




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