A group of 13 bank-owned payment processors have banded together to explore the possibility of creating a Sepa-compliant IP-based network, bypassing Visa and MasterCard, and enabling cross-border ATM and POS transactions in the eurozone.
The so-called Berlin Group currently has 13 participants from eight different countries, representing around 18 billion card transactions annually within the Single Euro Payments Area.
Paticipants include Belgium's Banksys, France's Cartes Bancaires, Holland's Interpay, Luxembourg's Cetrel, Germany's BVR, SSB in Italy and Spanish processors 4B, CECA and Sermepa. The national schemes are among those most threatened by the European Union's proposal to create a Single Euro Payments Area.
The group launched a feasibility study into the possibility of establishing a cross-border transaction system and have now published the common technical standards for authorisation, clearing and settlement.
The IP-based network would link participants for the exchange of card and transaction data. The Berlin Group network would also provide a clearing and settlement infrastructure and would allow processors to by-pass the Visa and MasterCard networks, although chargebacks and fraud monitoring would not be provided.