The European Payments Initiative, a bank-backed venture that was initally set up to build a rival to Mastercard and Visa in Europe, is to acquire Dutch payment scheme iDeal and Payconiq, the mobile payments app supported by a host of Belgian and Dutch banks.
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 last year, but financing had become a concern for members, prompting a move to seek outside funding. Tha failure to agree terms led to the pull out of 20 banks, including all Spanish members as well as Germany's Commerzbank and DZ Bank. Plans to launch a payment card were also ditched as the company reined in its ambitions.
Under its remaining 13 shareholders - BFCM, BNP Paribas, BPCE, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, DSGV, ING, KBC, La Banque Postale, Nexi, Société Générale and Worldline - the initaive appears to have grown fresh legs and the arrival of new support, from the returning DZ Bank, alongside ABN Amro, Belfius and Rabobank.
Martina Weimert, CEO of EPI Company, says: “EPI is delighted to welcome Currence iDEAL and PQI. Together we will join forces to realise EPI’s vision as we build an innovative solution based on a new, unified instant payment scheme and platform for Europe. EPI will leverage the strong operational experience, know-how and local market knowledge of these companies.”
The EPI product will encompass a multi-faceted digital wallet and an instant, account-to-account payment service under one brand, unified across European countries.
The company’s product roadmap is ambitious, addressing a comprehensive range of use cases. EPI will initially enable person-to-person (P2P) and person-to-professional payments, followed by online and mobile shopping payments and then point-of-sale payments.
A range of transaction types will be supported, including one-off payments, subscriptions, installments, payments upon delivery and reservations.
Additionally, value-added services will be incorporated over time, including buy now, pay later financing, digital identity features and integration of merchant loyalty programmes.
The EPI digital wallet with P2P payment functionality will be launched for the first users in a pilot phase by the end of 2023 across France and Germany. A broader market launch in Belgium, France and Germany will happen in early 2024. These markets together represent more than half of all non-cash payments in the Euro area.
The initiative has been backed by European Savings and Retail Banking Group, which believes the venture has found an answer to the possible fragmentation in instant payments across the EU and has called on other European banks to join up. ESBG’s managing director, Peter Simon. “Now that the industry showed that they are capable to deliver, it is time for the European Institutions to follow”,