As industry focus on the Single European Payment Area (SEPA) continues, Swiss and UK banking communities have marked a significant milestone, completing the migration of over two billion annual debit transactions previously branded ec and Switch to Maestro.
Against this active background of debit evolution, MasterCard Europe today restated its platform for the SEPA.
"We are on the threshold of a truly single market for Europe's 456 million consumers. MasterCard Europe has an effective roadmap in place for European banks, with a SEPA ready product that will also set the standard for cost efficiency and innovation. With our SEPA action plan and the ongoing support of our European customers, we are ready as soon as the architects of SEPA open the way, to deliver an exciting and competitive 21st century payments landscape," said Dr. Alexander Labak, president of MasterCard Europe.
The MasterCard Europe SEPA platform is based on the following six key features:
- Product – With over 250 million Maestro branded cards in Europe, Maestro is a strong brand in Europe and offers a ready-made platform for SEPA. Initially built by the European banking community to address specific European needs for replacement of the eurocheque, Maestro today offers the industry a unique and effective foundation on which SEPA for debit can be built, to deliver not only customer benefits but also profitability. Maestro branded cards support both magnetic stripe and chip PIN solutions, offering both short term usability and long term compliance within an EMV chip environment. Looking forward, such a foundation will be essential to support banks in Europe as they offer greater choice in segmented and value-added applications for their debit business through the SEPA framework.
- Acceptance – Already enjoying the highest level of acceptance across European debit accepting merchants, consumers will be able to access the benefits of SEPA more widely and more quickly through Maestro than any other current scheme or proposal. Maestro is also the only PIN debit brand that has a global acceptance network.
- Pricing - Given achievable economies of scale through MasterCard's processing platform, MasterCard Europe will roll out SEPA pricing that applies the same fees for intra-SEPA national and international transactions. In doing so, we are committed to provide substantial and material cost savings. Customers can also benefit from simplified licensing requirements through MasterCard Europe's SEPA License, available since 2004.
- Processing – MasterCard Europe's role as a European processor will be integral to its SEPA strategy. MasterCard's processing platform was the first in Europe to be updated with fast, reliable, scalable hardware and a suite of applications that deliver new levels of performance and business intelligence – the result of more than €70 million investment. Already, Maestro authorisation is performed across MasterCard's distributed European processing network. In addition, European Maestro settlement is managed and locally executed in Europe.
- Innovative solutions to replace cash – An integral part of MasterCard Europe's SEPA platform is to provide innovative solutions to replace cash with more efficient electronic payments. New product initiatives such as "PayPass" (tap and go functionality) and "preauthorised" technology are being brought to market to stimulate consumer card usage, while dramatically reducing transaction costs for banks. Dedicated product and marketing support will be provided by MasterCard Europe behind a further enhanced Maestro proposition.
- Governance - MasterCard will continue to deliver an empowered, member-run board for the management of European scheme governance that is consistent with the SEPA framework. In addition, a dedicated SEPA subcommittee will provide critical advice to the Europe Board.
"Other players in the sector are at a conceptual stage in the introduction of their SEPA solutions, with tests being conducted on a handful of transactions. Meanwhile, our customers across Europe have helped us – through years of experience, recent successful UK and Switzerland migrations and billions of transactions – to evolve Maestro from the original eurocheque product developed in the 1960s, to the sophisticated and leading electronic payments programme that it is today. We at MasterCard are committed to actively support the SEPA process contributing to enhance Europe's global competitiveness," concluded Dr. Labak.