A group of six leading Polish banks have agreed to come together to define a common standard for mobile payments, creating a system that could threaten the dominance of Visa and MasterCard.
Alior Bank, Bank Millennium, Bank Zachodni WBK, BRE Bank, ING Bank Śląski and PKO Bank Polsk - which between them account for 70% of Poland's electronic banking market - say that they will create a joint venture to develop the standards under the national regulator.
The offering will be based on PKO Bank's IKO app, which was launched in March and lets customers make in-store payments and ATM withdrawals by keying in a code generated by the app. Customers can also send money to recipients by entering their mobile phone number, like Barclays Pingit in the UK.
The system bypasses card firms, a fact that PKO's MD of electronic banking, Wojciech Bolanowski, admitted at MobeyDay last month, Visa was "not happy about".
Bank Millennium CEO Boguslaw Kott has openly admitted that the group is challenging Visa and MasterCard, telling Reuters: "This will be a more competitive system compared to the credit card system. The credit card system will probably be put under a question mark in the future."
The partners say that although similar collaborations are under way in places like Spain and the UK (where telcos have formed the Weve JV), their project is unique because it comes from financial institutions.
None of the six will have a dominating position, each using the same platform and then adding their own extra features, while the group says it is also open to bringing other banks and acquirers onboard.
Mateusz Morawiecki, chairman, of the Bank Zachodni WBK management board, says: "We are convinced that the initiative, which covers with its scope 70% of bank clients in Poland, stands very good chance to become a commonly used standard."