Voice of the Industry

The resurgence and future prospects of the SPAA scheme

Thursday 7 December 2023 07:55 CET | Editor: Vlad Macovei | Voice of the industry

SPAA Co-chairs Arturo González Mac Dowell and Gijs Boudewijn discuss how SPAA 1.1 revolutionises European payments, offering seamless data access, complementing EPI, and anticipating a dynamic Open Banking landscape.

SPAA Co-chairs discuss how SPAA 1.1 revolutionises payments, offering seamless data access, complementing EPI and a dynamic Open Banking landscape.


The evolving landscape of European payments has witnessed a notable development with the release of version 1.1 of the Payment Account Access (SPAA) scheme rulebook by the European Payments Council (EPC) on 26 June 2023. This comprehensive framework, designed to facilitate seamless access and utilisation of payment account information and payments initiation within the SEPA area. It replaces the previous version 1.0 published in November 2022. Scheduled to take effect on 30 November 2023, the SPAA scheme brings forth a set of rules and standards aimed at addressing the intricacies of accessing banking data, including technical, operational, and security considerations.

In an exclusive interview with The Paypers, co-chairs of SPAA MSG, Arturo González Mac Dowell and Gijs Boudewijn, shed light on the achievements, benefits, and future goals of the SPAA scheme. Overcoming initial scepticism within the industry, the SPAA Initiative has defied expectations and is set to become a pivotal player in the European payment ecosystem.

The journey and motivation

Reflecting on the journey, the co-chairs emphasised the collaborative spirit that reshaped the landscape following the implementation of the PSD2 directive. Acknowledging the challenges faced by Account Servicing Payment Service Providers (ASPSPs) and Third-Party Providers (TPPs) during the PSD2 API Evaluation Group phase, the SPAA scheme emerged as a cooperative model, shifting the industry narrative toward collaboration.

The motivation behind their determination was fuelled by the recognition that European authorities were relying on the industry to build a robust and agnostic model, extendable beyond payments into the broader context of the Open Finance (FIDA) framework. With the explicit support of the European Central Bank and the European Commission, the SPAA Scheme garnered momentum, becoming a truly European solution.

Key actors and interactions

The SPAA scheme involves four key actors: Asset Holders, Asset Brokers, Asset Owners, and Asset Users. Asset Holders, representing institutions holding payment-related assets, collaborate with Asset Brokers who access these assets on behalf of their customers, the Asset Users. Asset Owners, whether individuals or firms, entrust Asset Holders with managing their payment transactions, while Asset Users access transaction or information assets through Asset Brokers with the consent of the Asset Owner.

The terminology adopted aims to facilitate the evolution from payment services to finance beyond payments, aligning with the broader vision of the Open Finance framework as published by the European Commission last summer. However, it's crucial to note that the SPAA scheme governs only the relationship between Asset Holders and Asset Brokers, leaving other (commercial) relationships outside its scope.

Premium services and revenue opportunities beyond PSD2

At the heart of the SPAA scheme are premium API-based services that extend beyond the requirements of PSD2, providing additional revenue opportunities for banks. These services include multiple payments, payment certainty mechanisms, e-mandates, and future-dated and dynamic recurring payments. The scheme operates through Payment Initiation Services (PIS) via the SCT Inst rails, with enrolment opening on 1 December 2023.

Distinguishing between basic and premium services, the SPAA scheme acknowledges the inherent value in services offered through the scheme, imposing small access fees for basic services. Premium services, going beyond PSD2, include dynamic recurring payments, payments to multiple counterparties, and improved account information services. The scheme aims to provide a competitive environment that encourages innovation and adoption.

Encouraging participation and business conditions

Addressing concerns about participation, the co-chairs outlined the need to land the business conditions, which have recently been published on the EPC website after endorsement by the EPC Board on 28 November. The default remuneration for access and premium functionalities is a key factor in determining participation. The SPAA MSG is actively discussing the rollout strategy, emphasising communication to create awareness and avoid creating a dormant scheme.

Application procedure and participant register

Organisations seeking to join the SPAA scheme must adhere to eligibility criteria outlined in the rulebook and submit a signed Adherence Agreement. The application process involves the EPC secretariat objectively determining eligibility, with approved participants included in a Scheme register of Participants, publicly available on the EPC website.

Pricing structure and market adoption

The SPAA scheme's pricing structure, based on a carefully calculated cost model, aims to provide enough room for Asset Brokers to offer competitive services to end users. While the default fees are initially set, they will be recalibrated regularly based on market developments, ensuring flexibility. The success of the scheme is tied to the adoption by all ASPSPs aligning with EPC SCT and/or SCTinst schemes. With the 7 November political agreement on the Instant Payments Regulation, a cornerstone was laid.

Implications of PSD3/PSR and relationship with EPI

Anticipating potential changes in the regulatory landscape with PSD3/PSR proposals, the co-chairs express confidence that there will be no negative impact on the SPAA scheme. And with the FIDA framework for Open Finance data aligning with the SPAA four-corner model, the scheme remains resilient in the face of evolving regulations.

Addressing the relationship with the European Payments Initiative (EPI), the co-chairs emphasise that EPI and SPAA are complementary, with both aiming to contribute to the European payment landscape. While EPI focuses on A2A payment solutions, SPAA provides a framework for accessing and utilising payment account information and payment initiation. ASPSPs participating in EPI are still required to offer PSD2 compliance APIs, making the logic for joining SPAA applicable to all ASPSPs.

In conclusion, the SPAA scheme emerges as a significant player in the European payments arena, offering a collaborative and comprehensive framework that goes beyond regulatory requirements, fostering innovation and creating new revenue streams for participants. As the scheme prepares for its official launch, industry stakeholders are poised to explore the opportunities it presents for a vibrant and dynamic European Open Banking ecosystem.

This editorial piece was first published in the Open Finance Report 2023. We encourage you to download the report and find out the latest trends and developments in the world of Open Banking and Open Finance, as the road to Open Data continues.

About Gijs Boudewijn

Gijs Boudewijn is the General Manager at the Dutch Payments Association (DPA). With extensive expertise in payments, he holds leadership positions in various European payment associations and co-Chairs the EPC’s SEPA Payment Account Access scheme Multi Stakeholder Group for credit sector associations.



Arturo González Mac Dowell

Arturo, Vice-Chair of ETPPA and co-Chair of SPAA, led Eurobits, introducing Account Information Services in 2003. He oversaw its MBO and sale to Tink, now part of Visa. Arturo heads AEFI, the Spanish Fintech and Insurtech Association, and represents ETPPA on the ERPB and EPC boards.

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Keywords: SPAA, EPI, Open Banking, regulation, report
Categories: Banking & Fintech
Countries: Europe
This article is part of category

Banking & Fintech