Electronic direct debiting scheme continues to be possible under SEPA

Cash matters – less and less, because more and more people prefer paying by maestro- or credit card. Over 40 percent of the German consumers do so today, and even more will do in the future. But that’s not the only way to maximize convenience and security in payment procedures. The electronic direct debiting scheme (in German: Elektronisches Lastschriftverfahren, short: ELV) holds a mere 13 percent share of all payments in Germany.

But SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) and the transition to the EMV chip of the maestro card questioned the existence of ELV, which is well established in Germany: With the changeover to an exclusive use of the EMV Chip, the information cannot be read out via the magnetic strip any more as it has been usual with the ELV system.

Therefore, many retailers in Germany shy away from investing into this cost-saving and environmental-friendly electronic signature capturing solution. They fear that the electronic direct debiting scheme could not be continued under SEPA and an investment in new signature hardware would be to no avail.

Now, this threat seems to be banned: In the SEPA accompanying act from 09.04.2013 the German Federal Government specified, that the existing ELV in Germany definitely remains valid until February 1, 2016. But even beyond that date there is an option for an ELV form adapted to the SEPA-regulations. TeleCash, network operator and service provider for cashless payment transactions, had cleared another major hurdle yet: For the first time the Company was successful in handling an ELV-transaction via an EMV chip bank card – which is the most important change within the SEPA-regulations. With this, a first technical hurdle for the continued existence of the ELV payments has now been taken.

“We are very delighted that there are no more obstacles in the continuation of the in Germany very successful electronic direct debiting scheme,” says Oliver Jahnke, Business Development Manager D-A-CH-Region Wacom. “The support of the SEPA accompanying act and the technical progress of our partner give retailers a considerable planning reliability for many years. Our signature pads, like the STU-520, are already profitable after a short term: depending on the company’s size, the ROI is achieved in less than one year – sometimes even faster.”

The ELV has been implemented by German retailers in the early 1980s to offer an easier and cheaper way to pay by card. ELV stands for less handling fees than – for example – using PIN-based maestro or credit card payment. In combination with an electronic signature system like the sign pads from Wacom, ELV offers some significant advantages to customers and retailers: For example, there are no additional costs for paperwork and storage. Moreover, all processes can be worked on and traced much faster when everything is digitalized, as each slip can be captured, stored and found easily with one click. Renowned customers such as IKEA, the German shoe retailer Goertz, Jack Wolfskin or Decathlon already profit from electronic signature solutions in their daily businesses.