The European Payments Initiative has given up on its effort to build a rival to Mastercard and Visa in Europe after more than half its members left.
Initially backed by 31 major Eurozone banks and acquirers Worldline and Nets, the EPI set itself the goal of building a unified pan-European payment system, offering a card for consumers and merchants across Europe, a digital wallet and P2P payments.
Backed by the European Central Bank, the scheme was set to enter its operational phase this year, but by last November financing had become a concern for members, prompting a move to seek outside funding.
Now, 20 banks have pulled out, including all Spanish members as well as Germany's Commerzbank and DZ Bank. French lenders now dominate the group.
In a brief statement on the EPI site, the group says that the 13 remaining shareholders "remain convinced of the strategic value of a unified payment solution ready for commerce leveraging especially instant payments and want to go ahead".
Therefore, the EPI "is now adapting its scope and objectives to this new dimension".
The project is now expected to ditch plans for a card scheme and will instead focus on the digital wallet.
The remaining shareholders are: Banco Santander, Banque Fédérative du Crédit Mutuel, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, Deutscher Sparkassen- und Giroverband, Groupe BPCE, ING Bank, KBC Bank, La Banque Postale, Société Générale, Nets and Worldline.