Keys to understand the SEPA messages names

A SEPA message name consists of four letters and a series of numbers. Pacs.008.001.02, Pacs.004.001.02 or Camt.056.001.01 are examples of messages names used in the SEPA Credit Transfer scheme. You may wonder when you see Pacs.008.001.02, why do we have the numbers 008.001.02? And is there any meaning behind? The purpose of this article is to answer those questions.

The first four letters and the three digits of a SEPA Message Name

The explanation is found in the standard ISO 20022. The meaning of the first four letters was given in the previous post. Please refer to it if you are interested in what pacs or camt means. The four letters and the three digits after Pacs, Camt or Pain identify a specific message. The pain.001 message is used to send credit transfer orders or instructions from a Customer to the Bank. The pacs.008 message is used for the clearing and settlement of credit transfers between financial institutions. Those messages cannot be used for direct debits. If a customer wants to send direct debit instructions, he has to use another message called pain.008. He cannot use the pain.001 for that. Same thing applies for the pacs.008. It used for the clearing and settlement of credit transfers. If a bank wants to clear and settle direct debits, it will have to use another type of message, in this case the pacs.003. So every time you see pain.001, you know it is about credit transfer orders from a Customer to the Bank. And every time you see pacs.008, you know it is about credit transfer clearing and settlement between financial institutions.

The five last digits of a SEPA Message Name

What are about the five last digits (Pain.001.001.03)? All of them are used for the versioning of the messages. Pain.001.001.03 means version 1.3 (001.03) of the pain.001 message. When a new version of the message is published, only the last digit is increased. The next version after the Pain.001.001.03 is the Pain.001.001.04. It means that we will have the Pain.001.002.00 after the Pain.001.001.99. That will not happen before some time.

Picture of SEPA message
Anatomy of a SEPA Message Name

Now If you look at all the messages carefully, you see that the digits 4, 5 and 6 are always the same series 001. Pain.001.001.03, Pacs.008.001.02, Pacs.004.001.02, Camt.054.001.02, and so on. This is the case because the ISO 20022 has been around for a couple of years only. All the messages have the version 001.0X. The 001 does not have an important meaning now since all the ISO 20022 messages have it at the same positions. That is why, the 001 is generally ignored when the message version is given and only the last two digits are considered. People would say: “Can you process the pain version 2 (instead of version 1.2)?” They will mean the Pain.001.001.02 of course.

The message variant in the ISO 20022 standard

In the ISO 20022 standard, the first three digits of the version are called the variant number. When the variant number takes the value “001”, it identifies the global message definition. If it takes another value, it identifies a variant of the global message definition. A global message definition can therefore have up to 998 message variants.

Now what is a variant ? A variant is a restricted version of a global message definition. A variant is derived from the global message definition, but contains some limits compared to it. To get a better understanding of ISO 20022 message variants, read this article.

For your information, I published a book about SEPA Credit Transfer where one full chapter is dedicated to the messages exchanged in SEPA Credit Transfer Scheme.

Below are the links on amazon.

Kindle edition
Paperback edition

You can download the sample for free. Here is the link to download the sample of the SEPA Credit Transfer eBook.

You can buy the ebook and get a free access to a content rich webinar on this page.

After this brief presentation, it is now time to go through each message that appeared in SEPA Credit transfer EPC books and look at their meaning. In the next articles, we will first consider the messages used in the customer-to-bank space.


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