A senior executive at Deutsche Bundesbank has called on the banking sector to develop a pan-European mobile payments platform capable of competing with systems from Big Tech giants from the US and China.
The comments come from an interview with Bundesbank board member Burkhard Balz, first published in Handelsblatt and reprinted on the central bank's main Website.
Quizzed on the idea of a European solution, Balz says: "Here in Europe, we need to prevent a situation from arising in which American and Chinese payment systems are all we have left to choose between. Highly successful firms from the United States and China are looking to carve out a huge chunk of the European market. Hence the desire to forge a payments solution with a clear-cut European 'brand'.
"Chinese and US players are also saying that a race is under way here in Europe in which market domination is probably up for grabs. If you ask me, Europe needs to get off the sidelines and take a stance."
In order to achieve this, Balz says the core EU makets of Germany, France, Spain and Italy need to come together and begin work on establishing a pan-European platform.
Similar noises have emerged from the European Central Bank in the payment cards market, which is dominated by US schemes Mastercard and Visa. The ECB has long-floated the idea of a home-grown cross-border scheme capable of taking on the big brands, but so far without success.
"Of course there are cases where the results have fallen short of expectations," says Balz. "But I’m talking about defining our final destination. Take a look at how credit card providers have increased their share of Europe’s payments market, and you’ll see a strong increase in concentration. Do we want to sit back and just let that continue? Or wouldn’t it be better to at least try to forge initiatives of our own in response?"
Balz is wary of the efforts of US big tech firms like Apple and Google, and Chinese behemoths such as Alibaba and TenCent, moving to establish their own systems as the dominant platforms throughout the world.
"They have every right to make that attempt," he says. "But equally, we in Europe have every right to create our own brand. We shouldn't just be a spectator in a market that’s as important as this. It would make sense for European players to pool their resources as a way of competing eye to eye with global rivals. Our role to begin with will be that of a moderator."