A group of European card payment companies have banded together to form the Euro Alliance of Payment Schemes (EAPS) with the aim of offering direct interoperable debit card transactions at ATMs and cash tills across national borders.
The group consists of European card payment processor Eufiserv, Germany's electronic cash and Deutsches Geldautomaten-System, the UK's Link Interchange Network, EURO 6000 in Spain, Portugal's Multibanco and Italian card schemes PagoBancomat and Bancomat.
The parties involved have signed an agreement - dubbed the Wiesbaden Declaration - and say they will work together to create a new alternative for pan-European payments in line with the EU's proposals for the creation of a Single Euro Payment Area (Sepa).
The alliance will mark a decisive break with the international card networks by enabling direct pan-European acceptance of debit cards without the need for an intermediary processor.
The first pilot of the scheme will be operational by the end of 2006, say the EAPS participants, and will be expanded during the course of 2007.
Card schemes that do not yet have a Sepa implementation strategy will be invited to join the alliance or participate as "guests". The first guest participant to join the scheme is Interpay from the Netherlands.
Petter Johansen, managing director of Eufiserv, says: "As the member banks of the alliance partners extend their reach to each other, this will create opportunities for Eufiserv cardholders to use their cards in many more locations across Europe. This, together with the efficient business principles of the alliance, will provide banks with a great incentive to add the Eufiserv brand to their portfolio of card products."