EPI calls for public funding to support pan-European payments system

The European Payments Initiative (EPI) is seeking public funding to support its development of a unified payment system across Europe that would compete with US-based networks such as Visa and Mastercard, EPI chief executive Martina Weimert has said.

EPI chief executive Martina Weimert
WEIMERT: “Several billions of euros will be needed” to complete the EPI

The EPI has the support of more than 30 European banks and acquirers — including BNP Paribas, CaixaBank, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, ING, Santander and UniCredit — and revealed in May that these and other shareholders had invested €30m in the initiative as of that date, but that “several billions of euros will be needed” to complete the project.

Weimert called for public funding as part of the “massive investment” required to launch the network at a European Payments Institutions Federation event, according to a Reuters report.

“Retailers say they are not ready to pay for it, while banks and other EPI shareholders ‘can carry only so much’, Weimert said, without giving details on the investment needed,” Reuters says.

“Weimert said EPI was now in a ‘critical phase’ of decision making over the next few weeks.

“It will build a new system and largely replace a plethora of national systems to reduce fragmentation and overlaps in payments, she said, aiming to launch in 2022 peer-to-peer transactions based on instant payments, followed by ecommerce.”

“The European Union has been keen to achieve strategic autonomy in financial services, such as by cutting reliance on US Mastercard and Visa for cross-border card payments. It’s unclear whether that will extend to financial backing for EPI,” the Reuters report adds.

A group of 20 European banks first revealed they were working together to set up a pan-European payments system in November 2019.

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