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June 17th 2020

Breaking News: European Commission Confirms No Delay To SCA Deadline

The European Commission has announced that merchants will be granted no further time to prepare for Strong Customer Authentication, meaning that the current deadline of 31st December 2020 stands. CMSPI calculates this could cost the merchant community up to €90 billion in lost sales for 2021 alone.


Following the Financial Conduct Authority’s announcement of a delay to 14th September 2021 for the UK, merchants across Europe had hoped for a similar reprieve from the EBA and European Commission.

Unfortunately, strong campaigning from consumer groups and a perceived unwillingness to follow the UK’s lead has meant that the announcement today was hugely disappointing, but perhaps not unexpected.

The impact of COVID-19 on SCA preparations has been significant, prompting many in the payments industry to call for additional time to allow merchants to re-focus efforts on SCA, after the disruption caused by the pandemic.

During this tumultuous period, merchants have needed to focus on survival and revenue driving opportunities. As a result, there has been an internal shift of focus to ensuring their online ecommerce is working, as well as governments mandating access for vulnerable people – which has naturally taken up IT resource.

The FCA in the UK granted an additional six months following successful campaigning for a delay by merchants, merchant advocates and representatives from the wider payments industry. This additional time is estimated to prevent €17 billion in lost sales for online retailers, at a time when the online channel has become vital to survival for many merchants.

The decision to not delay SCA for the rest of Europe is a crushing blow to the merchant community, particularly those in the travel sector, where the payments industry has so far failed to produce appropriate SCA solutions.

“This is hugely disappointing from the European Commission and signals a complete disregard for the issues faced by merchants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Merchants now have extremely limited time to prepare, often with solutions that are neither ready nor cost-effective to implement, and all this during a winter sales period that is more crucial than ever” – Robbie MacDiarmid, Senior Economist

Ultimately, a delay would have provided merchants with more time for focusing on survival and issuers more time to come up with better ways of authenticating customers. For merchants relatively unaffected by COVID, the focus could have turned towards exemption strategies and avoiding SCA as much as possible when it did eventually come into play.

With the deadline remaining 31st December 2020, merchants now must expedite SCA preparations or face losing significant revenue.

Get in touch with our SCA experts today to discuss how to prepare for the upcoming mandate and mitigate against lost sales.