Sixteen major Eurozone banks have come together to start the implementation of a new payment system to take on the might of Visa and Mastercard and the threat posed by Chinese and US Big Tech firms.
The European Payments Initiative (EPI) aims to build a unified pan-European payment system, offering a card for consumers and merchants across Europe, a digital wallet and P2P payments.
The banks backing the project - BBVA, BNP Paribas, Groupe BPCE, CaixaBank, Commerzbank, Crédit Agricole, Crédit Mutuel, Deutsche Bank, Deutcher Sparkassen- und Giroverband, DZ BANK Group, ING, KBC Group, La Banque Postale, Banco Santander, Société Générale, UniCredit - have the full support of the European Central Bank, which has long-floated the idea of a home-grown cross-border scheme capable of taking on the big brands, but so far without success.
The beginning of the implementation phase is expected to materialise in the coming weeks through the creation of an interim company in Brussels, Belgium, which will set out clear deliverables including the completion of the technical and operational roadmap. The accomplishments of this Interim Company will be evaluated by each bank before moving on to the EPI’s final corporate structure.
Other payment service providers are invited to join the initiative. Until the end of 2020, a window remains open for European market players, individual banks or banking syndicates, as well as third-party payment service providers to apply and join EPI as a founder. EPI is expected to enter the operational stage in 2022.