A SEPA direct debit mandate is a document that aims to simplify recurring payments. It also aims to formally automate them. As for many other documents, one could sign electronically a SEPA direct debit mandate when it is digitised. Find out what are the advantages and the conditions to take advantage of such a process.
The SEPA mandate
SEPA stands for "Single Euro Payments Area" is a set of rules dictated by banks within the European Payments Council and the regulation n°260/2012 voted by european legislators. These rules gave birth to the creation of the SEPA foramt in 2010, which became mandatory for cards, money transfer and direct debits in 2014. This SEPA format aims to standardise payments made between european countries and some of their neighbouring countries.
The SEPA Direct Debit mandate is a document that allows the owner of a bank account to give their creditor a direct debit notice. In other words, this form allows a creditor to withdraw the amount of money that is due directly from the debtor's bank account.
Not so long ago, in order to pay water suppliers or electricity suppliers, it used to be necessary to sign and give a authorisation to withdraw money to your bank in order to pay these suplliers.
With the SEPA direct debit mandate, all there is to do is to sign it and mail it to the appropriate supplier along with your banking informormation. The service provider will set up the direct debit and keep the mandate.
Another major change deals with payment revocation. Before the SEPA mandate was put in place, it was mandatory to send payment cancellation requests to both your bank and the supplier. The SEPA mandate makes it possible to request cancellation by only asking to the supplier, preferably through registered mail with proof of receipt.
The purpose of this mandate is to simply and standardise debit authorisations in the EU and its neighbouring countries.
Conditions of validity of a SEPA direct debit mandate
The SEPA mandate can exist in two formats: the paper format and the electronic format
Conditions of validity for both of these formats are almost the same, albeit with a few differences.
The Paper SEPA mandate
The SEPA paper mandate must carry a precise amount of information:
- The title "SEPA direct debit mandate"
- The mandate reference
- The creditor's information
- The creditor's identifier
- Notes dealing with direct debit authorisations and repayment terms
The mandate reference has a maximum of 35 "latin" characters which give each mandate a singular identity. It ought to be given by the creditor as soon as the mandate is issued. The reference could potentially be added later on once the mandate is issued, provided the debtor has been informed and it is done before the first direct debit.
The creditor national identifier is basically a series of number. In France, it is based on the Numéro National d'Emetteur (NNE), but it varies depending on the country. It is a number that is given by the French National Bank at the request of the creditor's bank, upon verification of the creditor's information. The number has to be requested by the creditor to their bank.
The electronic SEPA mandate
The electronic version of the SEPA Direct Debit Mandate resulting from dematerialisation, also known as the SEPA e-mandate, must present all the information required for its handwritten counterpart and must meet the conditions set out in the Official Journal of the European Union. You can obviously check with your own local laws, as laws and regulations varry depending on the country.
In order to be accepted as evidence, the electronic document must guarantee the integrity of the document both at the time of its creation and when it is archived, as well as the identity of the author of the document.
Whether the SEPA mandate is in paper or electronic format, it is important to be aware of all the information and to ensure that this exchange is secure to avoid possible risks of fraud.
Signing an electronic SEPA mandate
The electronic signature is a guarantee of security with regard to the identity of the signatories and the integrity of the document. It is currently the most effective defence against SEPA mandate fraud.
Much like the SEPA e-mandate, the electronic signature is subject to the conditions set out in the Official Journal of the European Union. However, do check your local regulations as laws may vary from one country to another.
It is therefore a question of conferring a double level of security on the electronic act.
The electronic signature of a SEPA e-mandate can be broken down into 4 steps :
- Sending an e-mail to the debtor with a link to the mandate to be signed electronically
- Upon close reading of the document, the debtor received a code by SMS
- The debtor enter the code they received in order to digitally sign the mandate
- The e-mandate is signed and sent to both parties
The electronic signature, and therefore the electronic certificate affixed at the time of signing, seals the document and guarantees its integrity and the identity of the signatory(ies).