SEPA Request-to-pay: definition, advantages, and risks

sepa request to pay

Last modified on May 10th, 2024

Similar to the Request for Pay in the US, the SEPA request to pay was rolled out in 2021. It’s the European Payments Council’s latest initiative to streamline and digitalize the SEPA payment process in the EU. Keep reading to learn how it works and the risks and benefits it offers to companies.

Trustpair protects you against SEPA fraud through automated account validation. We secure your payment chain end-to-end, ensuring you don’t fall victim to third-party fraud. Request a demo to learn more!

New call-to-action

What is SEPA request-to-pay (SRTP)?

First things first: SEPA stands for “Single Euro Payment Area”, a multi-phased project in Europe to develop and unify electronic payments across the zone.

This zone comprises 36 countries — 27 amongst the EU plus a few more (like the UK). Individuals and organizations can send and receive cross-border payments with the same ease and cost as domestic payments.

SEPA Request To Pay (RTP) is the latest initiative developed by the European Payments Council (EPC) to provide frictionless electronic money transactions.

It is a messaging framework that’s used in the SEPA zone. According to the EPC: “The RTP is a messaging functionality. It is not a payment means or a payment instrument, but a way to request a payment initiation.”

It’s one way to encourage European companies to broaden their reach within the Single Euro Payments Area. European organizations can ask customers for payments of up to 100,000€ through this scheme. Merchants and payers must follow the SRTP scheme rulebook to use this service.

This initiative follows the many similar that have bloomed all around the world:

  • The Request for Pay (RfP) by NACHA in the US,
  • Pay.UK in the United Kingdom,
  • Unified Payment Interface (UPI) in India.

Request-to-pay is a widely adopted concept that’s used by peer-to-peer platforms like Venmo or PayNow. Government agencies worldwide have embraced it and brought forth regulation (the pay scheme rulebook in this case) to standardize and improve access to it.

It’s a growing B2B payment trend as it presents many benefits to businesses.

 

How does SEPA request-to-pay work?

The SEPA RtP process

RtP is initiated by a merchant requesting payment from a customer. The request pay can include some pre-filled information such as:

  • Transaction amount,
  • Payee bank account numbers,
  • Invoice number,
  • Date of transaction.

Once the payment initiation is completed by the receiving party, the request will be sent by:

  • Text message,
  • WhatsApp,
  • Email.

Request To Pay is a convenient and frictionless way for companies to get paid. It’s an extra step in the payment chain between a business transaction and the customer payment — but it helps companies get paid faster.

The request pay scheme has four main parties:

  1. The payee, ie the person requesting the payment.
  2. The payee service provider (their financial institution).
  3. The payer, ie the person sending the payment.
  4. The payer service provider (their banking institution).

The RtP service providers on both sides have to be from a list of SEPA banks that accepts this framework. Some payment service providers like Monei centralize different payment systems into one to offer companies a streamlined way to receive payments.

Timing of a SEPA RtP

When the payer receives a request to pay, they can either accept or decline the request.

  • If they decline it, the payee receives an instant notification.
  • If they approve it, they can proceed to make the payment using the pre-filled information. The payment can be done through normal credit transfer, direct debit, or through instant credit transfer (SCT Inst). An instant notification is sent by the service provider they use for the payment (traditional or open banking establishment) to the payee.

There is also a timing aspect when using this service:

  • The payee can send a payment request that can be accepted now or later by the payee.
  • The payer can decide to pay straight away when receiving the request, or later.

Concretely, there are four scenarios:

Payer / Payee  Accept Now Accept Later
Pay Now Payment happens when the request is accepted by the payee Payment happens when the request is accepted at a later time (determined by the payee)
Pay Later The request must be accepted by the payer immediately, but the payment can be made later  The request can be accepted at a later time, and the payment processed in the future at the payer’s convenience.

 

What are the benefits of SRTP for businesses?

The SEPA request-to-pay scheme presents many advantages to companies:

  • Improved liquidity. By being proactive and initiating an RTP, organizations can reduce their order-to-cash cycle. This allows them to reduce their DSO and stay on top of their Accounts Receivables. All of this improves their cash flow management.
  • Increased productivity. As the request to pay includes the relevant information from the business, the back-and-forth between the payer and payee is reduced. It also lowers the risks of errors that come from manually typing the payment details (such as a recipient’s name and bank account details).
  • More payment flexibility. RTP is one more payment option for businesses to get paid that they can offer their customers. It works for both payments in-store and online, accommodating various sales channels. The requests can be accepted and transactions sent on the go, through a banking app on the user’s mobile phone — they just need internet data to settle their invoice.
  • Better customer experience. RTP makes the payment process easier and frictionless for customers. It also delivers real-time payment confirmation for both parties.
  • Lower costs. There is no extra cost associated with using this messaging framework.
  • Expanded reach. RTP is ideal for businesses that are already doing business in the EU, or planning to. It facilitates hassle-free cross-border payments.
  • Improved safety standards. The EPC’s implementation guidelines aim to make payments more secure. However, it’s not failproof, so read on to learn how to stay 100% safe while using SEPA request pay.

 

What are the risks of SEPA request-to-pay and how to prevent them?

Heightened risk of fraud

Last year, 96% of US businesses were targeted by at least one fraud attempt. And that’s not just in the US: payment fraud is on the rise across the globe.

Scammers constantly adapt to incorporate new tools (like AI) and payment systems (like request pay SRTP or instant payment methods) into their arsenal.

For the SEPA request to pay, the biggest risk you encounter is vendor fraud. It’s a type of fraud where criminals impersonate one of your suppliers to get you to pay them (instead of your real suppliers).

Those cases can happen through spoofing, or because cybercriminals hack into your supplier’s or your network. Either way, this can have devastating consequences for your business — both in terms of financial loss and reputation.

For example, a well-known vendor could send you a text with a request to pay for their latest invoice. Because the name is familiar, it’s in the middle of a busy day, and it’s quick to do, you don’t think twice about paying them.

It’s only later that you realize that the money you sent went to a fake account. Fraud like these can go undetected for months, and drastically damage your supplier management practices.

The good news is, there is a way to ensure this doesn’t happen to your business.

Protect yourself with Trustpair

Using anti-fraud software like Trustpair means that you always know who you’re paying.

Our solution does ongoing and real-time account validation of your suppliers. If someone hacked into your system and manually changed your suppliers’ credentials for their own, we’d detect it and raise the alarm before the transaction is sent.

We use three-way matching to ensure your suppliers’ names and bank account information are legitimate, valid, and match together.

Trustpair services secure your payment process for domestic and international payments. Many of our clients are international businesses with overseas vendors who want protection against this increased risk of fraud.

Trustpair gives you peace of mind and helps you streamline your payment processes with your suppliers.

Learn more about B2B payment fraud in our latest fraud study!

New call-to-action

Key Takeaways:

SEPA request to pay is a messaging framework used by European businesses to ask for payment from their customer. It improves liquidity and provides a frictionless payment experience. With fraud on the rise, it’s important to protect yourself adequately. Using Trustpair means your third-party payments (through RTP and others) are 100% safe.

FAQ

The Request to Pay (RTP) process has 3 steps:

  • The payee (merchant) sends a RTP to their customer.
  • Once read, the payer (customer) accepts or declines the request. If they accept, they proceed to payment now or later using the information from the request.
  • The payee receives a notification of payment (or decline).

Yes and no. The requests in themselves are just messages asking for payment, so there is no harm in them. They also abide by the European Payments Council scheme rulebook. But anyone could send you a request asking you to pay them.

Many scammers now impersonate your suppliers or even government officials to get your employees to send them payments under false pretenses. You need to use anti-fraud software like Trustpair to ensure you don’t fall victim to third-party fraud.

Manage the risks related to corporate treasury.

Receive our latest news

Subscribe to the Trustpair Newsletter and receive advice every week…
Thanks ! Your subscription to the Trustpair newsletter has been taken into account.

        By clicking on “Subscribe”, you agree to receive the Trustpair newsletter to be informed of news or important information about our services. By subscribing, you agree to our Privacy Policy.

Related Articles