More banks join European instant payments pilot from end 2023
By Huw Jones
LONDON (Reuters) – An initiative to offer an instant payments service in Europe from the end of 2023 said on Tuesday it has acquired two payment firms and obtained the backing of more banks after scaling back ambitions to take on U.S. payments giants Visa and Mastercard.
The European Payments Initiative (EPI) said it planned to acquire Dutch payments scheme Currence iDEAL, and PQI, a Luxembourg-based payment solutions provider that services iDEAL.
EPI said Belfius, DZ Bank, ABN Amro and Rabobank have joined existing backers which include BNP Paribas, BPCE, Credit Agricole, Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale.
“We are developing a new, scalable platform to address the modern and evolving payment needs of European consumers and merchants in the best possible way, with efficient, state-of-the-art technology,” said Martina Weimert, chief executive of EPI company.
EPI’s ambitious aim of creating a European alternative to dominant cross-border card payments systems Visa and Mastercard was due to become operational last year, but collapsed after half of its member banks left.
EPI, which had appealed for public money because banks were not prepared to stump up all the cash needed, then refocused more narrowly on developing a digital wallet by creating a single brand for instant, account-to-account payments across European countries.
The wallet will be launched for the first users in a pilot phase by the end of 2023 across France and Germany, with a broader market launch that includes Belgium in early 2024.
“These markets together represent more than half of all non-cash payments in the euro area. Expansion to other European countries will follow,” EPI said.
Online and mobile shopping payments will be added later on, along with subscription installments, and services such as buy now, pay later, over time.
(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Bernadette Baum)