Belgium's bank-owned payment network, Banksys, is ditching its existing domestic system for card payments in favour of MasterCard's Maestro global processing platform in preparation for the introduction of the Single Euro Payments Area (Sepa) in 2008.
As of 1 January 2008, Banksys says it will replace the existing Bancontact/Mister Cash (BC/MC) national system with the Maestro international payments platform.
Banksys says it chose the Maestro network for "technical and organisational reasons", but says banks will be able to offer other Sepa-compliant payment systems later on.
The payments body says the switch over to Maestro will not require a special effort from customers, since the function has already been included into the vast majority of payment cards in the country.
There are currently 270 million Maestro cardholders in Europe and they will all be able to use their cards in Belgium following the switch over, says Bansys.
The EU's Sepa directive aims to dismantle cross-border barriers and drive down costs for non-cash euro payments to the level of domestic transfers.
In the UK payments network Voca is overhauling its payments infrastructure in preparation for Sepa and is moving to a standards-based payments engine developed by BEA, Sun and Oracle.