SEPA as a Payment Option for High-Risk Merchants

SEPA provides a number of benefits to high-risk merchants—as well as non-high-risk merchants. 

One of the biggest challenges high-risk merchants face is payment processing. We can break that down into various components, such as low acceptance rates and significant chargebacks, but high-risk merchants already know the problems.

What they really need are solutions.

SEPA provides a number of benefits to high-risk merchants—as well as non-high-risk merchants. 

What Is SEPA?

SEPA stands for Single Euro Payments Area. This payment system allows consumers to make cashless payments and eliminate obstacles that have typically plagued cross-border payments. Businesses, consumers, and government agents have the ability to send and receive payments with the same convenience of domestic transfers. Today, the SEPA payment method facilitates over 43 billion transactions per year.

Illustration of European member states that participate in SEPA as a payment option

SEPA is currently available in 36 countries and territories: 

  • the 27 Member States of the European Union
  • Andorra
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Monaco
  • Norway
  • San Marino
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • Vatican City State/Holy See. 


It first became available for credit transfers in 2008, followed by debit transactions in 2009. SEPA was fully operational in EU countries by 2014 and non-EU countries could participate by 2016.

Three options exist for SEPA payments:

  • SEPA Direct Debit
  • SEPA Credit Transfer
  • SEPA Instant Credit Transfer


As the name suggests, the instant transfer is a popular choice for merchants and customers. 

Post-authorization, funds are transferred and land in the recipient’s account in approximately ten seconds. Transfers can be completed 24/7, 365 days a year, so parties do not have to worry about delays due to weekends or holidays. 

A better customer experience for consumers, plus revenue growth opportunities for merchants, makes the instant option desirable for both. The only caveat is that both the sender and receiver banks must be registered as SEPA Instant members.

Three open doors showing different landscapes beyond to explain concept of SEPA as another payment option for high-risk merchants in e-commerce
Why Add SEPA as a Payment Option?

As a fast, safe, and efficient payment method, adding SEPA to your payment lineup comes with tremendous benefits. Payments are processed quickly and in a simplified manner. Cross-border payments help to expand a merchant’s target market. Plus, unlike VISA and Mastercard, SEPA does not have chargeback ratios, counts, or fines if chargeback limits are exceeded. 

Merchants using SEPA for subscription services experience three key advantages:

  • More control. With the direct debit option, merchants feel more assured subscribers will pay on time, every time.
  • Better retention. Consumers have the benefit of a “set it and forget it” payment method. Merchants don’t have to worry about failed payments due to credit cards expiring or being canceled. 
  • Greater time savings. With less chasing of payments, and the need to update credit card details, merchants significantly reduce time spent on administrative tasks.

SEPA also provides expansive access to customers who prefer not to use a credit card online. This is especially beneficial in countries where credit card penetration is low (e.g. Germany, Netherlands). 

Is SEPA Right for Your Business?

Given all of the above, there’s no real argument against using SEPA as an alternative payment method. It is important to note though that some payment processors promote SEPA, but choose not to work with high-risk merchants. Before getting too far down the road with such a company, confirm that the payment processor can serve your needs—and do it with deep experience and merchant support.

The Bottom Line

If you want to increase your sales potential, adding SEPA as a payment option is the way to go. 

Contact us if you’d like to learn more about SEPA, how it can contribute to revenue, and what you’ll need to get started. We work with all types of e-commerce merchants, including high-risk.

About Vendo: Vendo offers comprehensive payment processing services to e-commerce merchants, including those in high-risk industries. Our innovative, AI-powered tools offer merchants simple, secure, and seamless payment solutions, along with expert customer support from integration to end-user concerns. Our expert team works 24/7 to shape your vision into reality.