EC-backed Mastercard and Visa rival seeks funding

The European Payments Initiative (EPI), a European Commission-backed initiative to create a pan-European payments network that can rival Visa and Mastercard, has appealed for public funding.

The EPI said its private backers were not prepared to provide all the cash it needed according to sources reported by Reuters.

The solution aims to become “a new standard in payments for European consumers and merchants across all types of retail transactions including in-store, online, cash withdrawal, and peer-to-peer.”

The EPI has said its objective is to supersede the “fragmented landscape” it claims currently exists in the European payments space.

The proposed initiative, launched in June 2020, is backed by 31 European banks and credit institutions in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain.

These include: BBVA, BNP Paribas, Groupe BPCE, CaixaBank, Commerzbank, Crédit Agricole, Crédit Mutuel, Deutsche Bank, Deutscher Sparkassen- und Giroverband, DZ Bank, ING, KBC Group, La Banque Postale, Banco Santander, Société Générale, and UniCredit.

The future governance of the Brussels-based organisation is still under finalisation.

EPI chief executive Martina Weimert said "public funding would be nice" at an event held by the European Payments Institutions Federation reported by Reuters.

The executive said: “Let’s not hide it - it's going to be a massive investment. It's expensive."

Weimart also told the news agency that retailers have said they are not willing to fund the new initiative, and that banks and other EPI shareholders "can carry only so much".

Weimert said the EPI was in a "critical phase" at the event and that it aims to launch peer-to-peer transactions based on instant payments in 2022.

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