An Introduction to SPAA: A Framework for Direct Revenue from Open Banking

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27 June 2024

Key research questions

  • What is the Sepa Payment Account Access Scheme (SPAA)?
  • How can banks generate revenue from joining the scheme?
  • What is the future outlook for SPAA?


With so many different regulatory changes and initiatives underway in the payments industry, it’s easy to miss the SEPA Payment Account Access scheme (SPAA). However, this has the potential to be no less revolutionary than PSD2 in shaping the development of open banking in Europe.

SPAA scheme is a voluntary framework under which banks can offer a series of new pre-defined and value-adding API-delivered services across the SEPA zone. These are designed to build on the foundation laid by PSD2, by acting as a ‘premium’ layer that goes over and above those mandatory requirements. Crucially for banks, these would be chargeable services and a pricing schedule is already in place.

The biggest reason that SPAA should be of interest to banks is the opportunity to generate direct revenue from open banking. The scheme outlines 12 value-adding payment services, data assets, and other premium features that can be directly monetised by financial institutions. These have been designed to facilitate a range of payment use cases for merchants and other businesses, each of which is currently not possible using PSD2 payment initiation APIs. The most high profile of these is Dynamic Recurring Payments, which offers broadly equivalent functionality to VRP in the UK. Unlike in the UK at the moment though, the proposal under SPAA includes a clear pricing framework.

However, despite the potential for SPAA to support further payment innovation and deliver a revenue flow for banks, it faces several challenges and take-up to date has been limited. The most pressing issue is that the scheme is purely voluntary and, at a time when there is a growing list of compliance-related costs coming down the line for European banks, this complicates the task of finding the resources to invest.

In addition, some banks see challenges with other aspects of the business case. While there is a clear potential revenue flow, concerns over the length of the cost recovery period remain, while others are also wary of investing in any initiative that may cannabilise some of their card volumes. SPAA is very much a nascent initiative, but these concerns are among serveral that risk limiting participation from banks.

In Celent's view, while there is some uncertainty over SPAA, there is also considerable merit in engaging with the initiative. Given the potential of SPAA to drive real innovation in the payments landscape, and to do so in a way that guarantees revenue for banks, the industry should give serious consideration to engaging with the pilot programs planned for 2024 and 2025. Open banking payment volumes look set to continue to grow regardless, so engaging in any program that offers a way to generate income from those flows is clearly worth exploring.

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