European banks to create cross-border instant payments system

INSTANT PAYMENTS: The banks plan to leverage Europe's Sepa real-time payments infrastructure
INSTANT PAYMENTS: The banks plan to leverage Europe’s Sepa real-time payments infrastructure

Sixteen major European banks have announced plans to jointly create a new company that will be tasked with delivering “a seamless, competitive and unified payment solution” for in-store, online and P2P payments across Europe.

Founding members of the European Payments Initiative (EPI) include banks in five Eurozone countries — France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. They are BBVA, BNP Paribas, Groupe BPCE, CaixaBank, Commerzbank, Crédit Agricole, Crédit Mutuel, Deutsche Bank, Deutscher Sparkassen- und Giroverband, DZ Bank Group, ING, KBC Group, La Banque Postale, Banco Santander, Société Générale and UniCredit.

“The ambition of EPI is to create a unified pan-European payment solution leveraging Instant Payments/SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst), offering a card for consumers and merchants across Europe, a digital wallet and P2P payments,” the banks say.

“The solution aims to become a new standard means of payment for European consumers and merchants in all types of transactions including in-store, online, cash withdrawal and ‘peer-to-peer’ in addition to existing international payment scheme solutions.”

“The beginning of the implementation phase is expected to materialize 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 and initiating the implementation work to achieve a best-in-class user experience,” they explain.

“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.”

The objective, they add, is to offer a digital payment solution that can be used anywhere in Europe “and to supersede the fragmented landscape that currently still exists.”

“EPI also aims to align the European payments ecosystem of banks, merchants and acquirers/payment services providers, thereby contributing to strengthening of the Single Market and the European digital agenda.”

“More than 50% of retail payment transactions in Europe are still done by cash today,” they say.