The SEPA Direct Debit Mandate is an indispensable instrument for the SEPA Direct Debit Scheme. With the help of the mandate, a credit institution is instructed to collect payment orders from the account of the debtor (debtor) and it authorizes payees (creditors) to honor direct debit orders at the debtor’s bank. The SEPA direct debit mandate can be submitted by the debtor to the creditor in writing by means of a form, electronically with a secure signature, or through e-mail or fax in compliance with the written form. Another type of mandate is the e-mandate of the EPC (European Payments Council). However, this is not offered by the German banking industry.
Requirements of the electronic mandate
An electronic mandate is issued on the Internet and is just as valid as the paper mandate. It must be created as an electronic document and signed with a qualified electronic signature. The electronic signature is exclusively assigned to the signatory and enables the signatory’s identification by the bank of the direct debit creditor. The electronic signature is only valid if it has been created in a secure way that is the sole responsibility of the direct debit issuer (debtor), for example on a sign pad. In terms of content, the written form of the electronic mandate must comply with the specifications of the EPC. It must contain the payer’s consent to direct debit collection by the payee’s payment service provider. Furthermore, the text of a basic direct debit mandate must inform the debtor of the possibility of returning the direct debit within eight weeks. This information is not required for SEPA business-to-business direct debits. The electronic SEPA direct debit mandate, like the paper mandate, must always be issued in the national language of the debtor. If this is not known to the payee, a mandate in English is also permissible in case of doubt.
Admissibility of electronic mandates
The bank of the creditor submitting the direct debit decides on the admissibility of electronic mandates. The contractual terms and conditions between the creditor and his payment service provider are decisive in this regard. In the event of a dispute, it is always the creditor’s responsibility to prove the legitimacy of his direct debit claim or direct debit collection. The electronic mandate is valid until revoked by the debtor or creditor. However, if it is not used for 36 months, the validity of the electronic mandate expires. Direct debit collection by the creditor’s payment service provider is no longer permitted from this point in time.
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