On 24 April 2020 the European Payment Institutions Federation (EPIF) published a joint industry letter that was sent to the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Commission requesting a delay to the implementation of Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) under PSD2 due to the impacts of COVID-19. The letter is co-signed by a number of European bodies including Ecommerce Europe, Independent Retail Europe, the European Association of Payment Service Providers for Merchants, as well as both Visa and Mastercard.

The letter comes after the EPIF held a workshop for stakeholders in the card payment market where the impact COVID-19 has had on SCA implementation was discussed. According to EPIF, it is clear that COVID-19 has “significantly reduced the capacity available to progress SCA development and implementation”. EPIF noted that the travel and hospitality sectors have been particularly badly hit.

EPIF states that the exceptional circumstances of the disease is putting an exceptional strain on the limited resources of the parties in the payment chain and businesses have had to reprioritise and refocus their efforts on business continuity. Consumers are now relying on ecommerce more than ever so the importance of maintaining product availability and ensuring frictionless customer journeys is a priority.

The letter calls on the European Commission and the EBA to consider appropriate additional measures and coordination to assist in the smooth transition to SCA in all EU Member States, with this including the possibility of an at least an additional 6 months for the market to be fully SCA ready. The letter emphasises that avoiding disruption will be critical this year as it will coincide with the early stages of economic recovery.