The European Payments Initiative, a bank-backed initiative originally created to create a competitor to Mastercard and Visa in Europe, will purchase the Dutch payment system iDeal and Payconiq, a mobile payments app backed by a number of Belgian and Dutch banks.
The EPI, which was initially supported by 31 major Eurozone banks and the acquirers Worldline and Nets, set out to create a unified pan-European payment system by providing a card for customers and merchants across the continent as well as a digital wallet and P2P transactions.
The European Central Bank-backed programme was about to begin its operational phase last year, but members’ concerns about funding led them to move to seek outside funding. Twenty banks withdrew as a result of the failure to reach an agreement, including all Spanish members as well as Germany’s Commerzbank and DZ Bank. Along with scaling back its ambitions, the company abandoned plans to introduce a payment card.
The initiative appears to have gained new momentum with the return of DZ Bank, along with ABN Amro, Belfius, and Rabobank, and the arrival of new support from its remaining 13 shareholders, including BFCM, BNP Paribas, BPCE, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, DSGV, ING, KBC, La Banque Postale, Nexi, Société Générale, and Worldline.
EPI Company CEO Martina Weimert declares: “EPI is pleased to welcome Currence iDEAL and PQI. As we construct an original solution based on a new, unified instant payment scheme and platform for Europe, we will work together to realise EPI’s vision. EPI will benefit from these companies’ extensive operational expertise, know-how, and local market expertise.
The EPI product will include an instant, account-to-account payment service and a multifaceted digital wallet under a single, unified brand for all of Europe.
The company’s ambitious product roadmap covers a wide range of use cases. Person-to-person (P2P) and person-to-professional (P2P) payments will be made possible by EPI first, then payments for online and mobile shopping, and finally point-of-sale transactions.
A variety of transaction types, such as one-time payments, subscriptions, installments, payments upon delivery, and reservations, will be supported.
Value-added services, such as buy now, pay later financing, digital identity features, and integration of merchant loyalty programmes, will also be added over time.
By the end of 2023, a pilot programme in France and Germany will introduce the first users to the P2P payment functionality of the EPI digital wallet. Beginning in early 2024, a wider market launch will take place in Belgium, France, and Germany. More than half of all non-cash payments in the Euro area are made on these markets.
European Savings and Retail Banking Group, which supports the initiative and has urged other European banks to join it, believes it has found a solution to the issue of potential fragmentation in instant payments across the EU. Peter Simon, managing director of ESBG. “The time has come for the European Institutions to follow now that the industry has demonstrated its ability to deliver,”