EPI readies launch of bank-backed card challenger
The pan-European payments initiative benefits from links to many of Europe’s largest banks – and has fintech in its sights.
Whether it’s Paypal, Apple Pay, Visa or Mastercard, US payments companies are taking over in Europe. Can the European Payments Initiative (EPI) – helped by the commitment of flows from banks in continental Europe’s biggest economies – challenge them?
At a basic level, EPI is the germ of a pan-European successor to national bank-owned debit card networks such as Carte Bancaire in France, GiroPay in Germany, and Bancomat in Italy.
But the idea behind EPI is also that a pan-European provider will have the scale to make the kinds of investment in technology that national schemes cannot afford.
And unlike those, this one will be able to be used internationally, albeit initially only in continental Europe. This will give retailers operating across the continent the convenience of only having to work with one provider.
Banks in some countries in Europe, such as the Netherlands and the UK, don’t try to challenge Visa and Mastercard with their own schemes. But this comes at the cost of high fees and control over the product, according to Martina Weimert, EPI’s newly joined chief executive.