Eurozone banks partner for unified payment scheme

A group of 16 major European banks from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain have paved the way for the future launch of the European Payments Initiative (EPI).

The ambition of EPI is to create a unified pan-European payment solution, leveraging instant payments and credit transfers, offering a card for consumers and merchants, as well as a digital wallet.

It 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.

A statement claimed that more than half of retail payment transactions in Europe are still done by cash today, as existing digital payment solutions are fragmented and European citizens are still unable to pay digitally everywhere.

"Moreover, the COVID-19 crisis has underlined the need for a unified European digital payment solution," it added.

The beginning of the implementation phase is expected in the coming weeks through the creation of an interim company in Brussels, which will set out clear deliverables, including the completion of the technical and operational roadmap and initiating the implementation work.

Other payment service providers are invited to join the initiative, with the window remaining open until the end of this year 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.

Its founding members to date are: BBVA, BNP Paribas, Groupe BPCE, CaixaBank, Commerzbank, Crédit Agricole, Crédit Mutuel, Deutsche Bank, Deutcher Sparkassen-und Giroverband, DZ BANK Group, ING, KBC Group, La Banque Postale, Banco Santander, Société Générale and UniCredit.

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