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Exclusive interview on SEPA Payment Account Access Scheme: Creating a vibrant European Open Banking ecosystem

In a recent exclusive interview with, the co-chairs of the SEPA Payment Account Access (SPAA) Scheme, Arturo González Mac Dowell and Gijs Boudewijn, shed light on the scheme’s achievements, benefits, and future goals. The interview, conducted one week ago, delves into the updates introduced in version 1.1 of the SPAA scheme rulebook, replacing the previous version and scheduled to become effective on November 30, 2023.

The SPAA scheme, initiated by the European Payments Council (EPC), serves as a comprehensive framework within the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), offering rules and standards for banks and third-party providers to access and utilize payment account information. Unlike the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2), which outlines general requirements for accessing banking data, the SPAA rulebook provides a more specific and detailed framework, encompassing technical and operational guidelines for authentication, security, privacy, and liability.

The scheme also introduces optional premium API-based services, such as multiple payments, payment certainty mechanisms, e-mandates, and future-dated dynamic recurring payments, going beyond the PSD2 requirements and creating additional revenue opportunities for participating entities. Operationally, the SPAA scheme will utilize Payment Initiation Services (PIS) via the SCT Inst rails, with enrollment opening on September 1, 2023.

Overcoming skepticism within the industry, the SPAA Initiative, initially deemed “dead,” has been successfully revived. The co-chairs highlight the significant challenge of transitioning from the adversarial early days of PSD2 implementation, involving Account Servicing Payment Service Providers (ASPSPs) and Third-Party Providers (TPPs), to a more cooperative model. This cooperative approach aimed to demonstrate to legislators the effectiveness of an industry-led initiative and lay the foundation for a lighter-touch legislation fostering innovation.

Key actors in the SPAA scheme include Asset Holders (AH), Asset Brokers (AB), Asset Owners (AO), and Asset Users (AU). The scheme’s holistic terminology aims to facilitate the evolution from payment to finance beyond payments, aligning with the Open Finance (FIDA) framework. The SPAA scheme focuses on the relationship between Asset Holders and Asset Brokers, governed by SPAA scheme rules, while relationships between Asset Holders and Asset Owners and Asset Brokers and Asset Users are outside the scheme’s scope.

To encourage participation, the SPAA scheme emphasizes the importance of business conditions and default remuneration. The scheme is voluntary, relying on attractive conditions to entice Asset Holders and Asset Brokers to participate. The establishment of a dedicated SPAA Scheme Interest Group underscores industry interest and involvement.

Premium services within the SPAA scheme extend beyond PSD2 requirements, encompassing transaction and account information services. These premium services, such as dynamic recurring payments and enhanced account information, offer additional value and revenue opportunities. The success of the scheme is contingent on its ability to create a vibrant European Open Banking ecosystem, with the ultimate goal of fostering innovation and collaboration.

The interview also explores the application procedure for organizations to join the scheme, highlighting the importance of adherence agreements, eligibility criteria, and the determination process by the EPC secretariat. The SPAA scheme’s pricing structure, including default remuneration, is designed to encourage adoption among merchants, fintech companies, and end-users, ensuring competitiveness and flexibility.

Looking ahead, the interview touches on the potential implications of PSD3/PSR proposals, assuring that the SPAA scheme is not materially impacted. Additionally, the co-chairs clarify the relationship between the SPAA scheme and the European Payments Initiative (EPI), emphasizing their complementary nature and encouraging all ASPSPs to consider joining SPAA, irrespective of EPI participation.

In summary, the SPAA scheme emerges as a pivotal initiative shaping the European Open Banking landscape, overcoming challenges, and fostering collaboration among key industry players. With its comprehensive framework, premium services, and voluntary participation model, the SPAA scheme aims to create a dynamic and attractive ecosystem, paving the way for future innovations in the realm of Open Finance.

Read more here.

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