EU EPI secures project funding for VISA and Mastercard challenge


The European Payments Initiative (EPI) has revealed that it has secured the support of more than 30 European banks and financial institutions, in its ambition to launch a unified payments system for EU markets.

Launched at the start of 2020, the EPI initiative is a joint project by EU-licensed banks aimed at coordinating a counter payment system to rival the dominance of US carriers VISA and Mastercard, and further services offered by tech giants such as Google and PayPal.  

The idea was initially proposed by the Europe Central Bank (ECB) which deemed that European banks held no autonym on the management and infrastructure of the processing of financial transactions which has been dominated by US firms.  

The EU-wide project is led by Dr Joachim Schmalzl, the former Chief Executive of Deutscher Sparkassen und Giroverband (DSGV) – Germany’s National Savings and Giro Trust.

Providing an update on year-1 initiatives, Schmalzl disclosed that the EPI had secured its initial funding target of €30 million, raised by participating banks including BNP Paribas, CaixaBank, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, ING, Santander and UniCredit.

Despite launching in a year of COVID disruptions, Schmalzl maintained confidence that the EPI would launch its beta electronic payment systems by early 2022, with a full launch of the service available by end of the year.  

Schmalz underscored the significance of the joint project, in which “European Banks are in need of a payment champion”.

Questioned on whether a new payment system could compete against the dominance of VISA and MasterCard,  Schmalzl underlined that an alternative system was needed to challenge the global oligopoly and give merchants and consumers in Europe a real choice”.

Securing its funding the EPI has issued a call for technical partners,to develop the system’s central infrastructure and controls.