European banks to build rival network to Visa and Mastercard

According to a recent report in Finextra, the European Payments Initiative (EPI), a joint venture of European banks, is planning to build a payments network to rival Visa and Mastercard. To do this, it has embarked on a search for “qualified technical partners” to build the central infrastructure, and proposals are to be delivered by 1st March. This list will be used to establish a longlist of potential participants, who will be invited to submit a formal Request for Proposals later in 2021.

EPI wants to create a unified pan-European payment system that includes a card for consumer and merchant payments, as well as a digital wallet and P2P payments.

It is hoped that this will become operational in 2022 and the EPI is setting out “clear deliverables including the completion of the technical and operational roadmap.” At the moment it is still assessing the best design for the infrastructure and the method of operating it “to sustain all the necessary scheme functions and needs, as well as the solution needs of the technical entity, in relation to the payment products EPI intends to deploy”.

A statement from EPI says: “In particular, determining the financial aspects of the different options for the setup, and the run of the central infrastructure is critical for allowing proper decisions and choices.”

Europe should look at India

Some Finextra readers believe the EPI is a bit late to the party, while one suggests that if the EPI is looking for a operations model, it should look at India’s “payments infrastructure run by NPCI which has a switch (old style ATM) for clearing (NFS), supporting an instant mobile payment service (IMPS), which supports the universal payments interface (UPI) giving API access to Fintechs and banks, and innovations such as digital wallets.” This reader added, “Building something similar (but on more advanced technology in the clearing and settlement layer) would give European payments a huge boost and set it up for decades.”

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