Eurozone banks form payments group to take on Visa, Mastercard

A group of 16 Eurozone banks have launched a plan to create pan-European payments system called the European Payments Initiative, which will offer consumers and merchants a new regime that includes digital wallets and P2P payments.

The founding banks come from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain and plan to offer a system that leverages Instant Payments/SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (European real-time payments system) and will allow in-store, online, P2P, cash withdrawal as well as international payment schemes. The plan is widely seen as a plan to take on the payments landscape dominated by Visa and Mastercard.

“The initiative will reinforce competition in the payment services market, currently dominated by a few big international operators/schemes,” Carmen Alvarez Diez, a spokesperson for BBVA, in Spain, told Mobile Payments Today via email. “The COVID-19 crisis has confirmed the need for digital payments solutions in Europe. Therefore EPI’s wallet solution offering cards and digital SCT Inst would be ideally positioned offering hence the choice to clients.”

Erik Tak, global head, ING Payment Center, said that local payment systems like Ideal in the Netherlands, offer a series of fragmented payment methods for mobile and e-commerce, but noted the need for a more unified system that can support cross-border payments.

“We believe that the ongoing investments in a pan-European Instant Payments infrastructure that is able to process payments in seconds, 24/7/365 is an ideal basis to build a cheap, fast and efficient payments solution for P2P, e/m commerce as well as POS payments,” he told Mobile Payment Today via email.

The plan calls for the creation of an interim company that will be based in Brussels, Belgium and additional banks and third-party payment service providers would be eligible to apply to join the group before the end of 2020 as founding members. The payments plan is scheduled to officially launch by 2022.

The 16 initial member banks include BBVA, BNP Paribas, Groupe BPCE, Caixabank, Commerzbank, Credit Agricole, Credit Mutuel, Deutsche Bank, Deutscher Sparkassen und Giroverband, DZ Bank, ING, KBC, La Banque Postale, Santander, Societe Generale and UniCredit.