European banks plan ‘home grown’ rival to Visa and Mastercard by 2025, BFSI News, ET BFSI

A pan-European payments network can be in place by 2025 to make the continent a “master of its own destiny” in a sector dominated by American duo Visa and Mastercard, the project’s top official said on Wednesday.

The European Payments Initiative (EPI) was launched last July and became an interim company in December with 22 banks as shareholders.

The banks have until December to commit to implementing over the following three years the new network for a physical payment card and digital counterpart.

European Union and European Central Bank policymakers have long wanted a “home grown” payments scheme which they could regulate directly and build “autonomy” in core financial services.

“We can bring choice to consumers but also to merchants in the future,” EPI Chief Executive Martina Weimert told an online event.

European consumers have traditionally preferred using cash but a trend towards digital and contactless payments has grown, fuelled by lockdowns to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

“This will give us and for the whole European economy more sovereignty, more independence, becoming masters of our own destiny here,” Weimert said.

Priority will be given to European players in building the new network, she added.

Deutsche Bank, UniCredit, BNP Paribas , ING, Societe Generale and Sabadell are among the 22 banks from seven EU countries, including France, Germany and Spain who are backing the venture, with another seven national markets in discussion over joining.

It would be normal for EPI to take time to build up trust among consumers, just as PayPal and Apple Pay did, she said.

“We think that we can nevertheless have a very nice market positioning at the European scale because of the size of the European market, and 50% of all transactions in the euro as still cash transactions,” Weimert said.

“I am not saying we want to have cash disappearing but at least reducing part of it.”

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