German and French banks, including Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale, have stepped up efforts to create a new European debit card scheme to challenge MasterCard and Visa.
The European Central Bank has been calling on the industry to set up a rival scheme to challenge the dominance of MasterCard's Maestro and Visa's V Pay in the Single Euro Payments Area (Sepa), for two years.
Last week at EBAday the ECB's Wiebe Ruttenberg, reiterated the stance, telling delegates: "We need at least one alternative card scheme in Europe to become a credible challenge to the duopoly."
However, there has been reticence on the part of banks to commit to a scheme because of uncertainty in the market surrounding interchange fees.
In April the EC hit Visa Europe with an interchange antitrust charge just days after reaching agreement with MasterCard on the same issue.
The proposed rival system now appears to have gained fresh impetus, with Deutsche Bank COO, Hermann-Josef Lamberti, telling a conference in Frankfurt that several financial institutions, including Societe Generale and BNP Paribas, will probably set up a group in September to push ahead with the scheme.
According to Bloomberg, Lamberti told the conference that once the rest of Europe saw that French and German banks agree on the plan, it "has a chance to evolve into a solid European system".
Bundesbank board member Hans Georg Fabritius told the conference that a Visa and MasterCard duopoly is "an unsatisfying vision" for political and economic reasons. However, he warned that while the French and German project, called Monnet, is "promising" it is only a concept and he would want other countries to join in.
Deutsche Bank, Lenders Push for New Debit-Card System - Bloomberg