Major banks commence implementation phase of European Payment Initiative

Maria Nikolova

The aim of EPI is to create a unified pan-European payment solution, offering a card for consumers and merchants across Europe, a digital wallet and P2P payments.

Today, a group of 16 major European banks from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain set the stage for the future launch of the European Payments Initiative (EPI).

The ambition of the initiative is to create a unified pan-European payment solution leveraging Instant Payments/SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst), offering a card for consumers and merchants across Europe, a digital wallet and P2P payments. The solution 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” in addition to existing international payment scheme solutions.

The digital payment solution would be available for use anywhere in Europe and aims to supersede the fragmented landscape that currently still exists. In doing so, EPI founders are responding to merchant and consumer communities that have been calling for payment initiatives to take a more pan-European approach.

EPI will first and foremost benefit European citizens, possibly boosting innovation in the world of payments. More than 50% of retail payment transactions in Europe are still done by cash today. The EPI solution will also bring tangible benefits to European merchants, by offering them a seamless, competitive and unified payment solution for the whole of Europe that is also available to all European consumers.

Moreover, the Covid-19 crisis has underlined the need for a unified European digital payment solution. In this sense, EPI also aims to align the European payments ecosystem of banks, merchants and acquirers / payment services providers, thereby contributing to strengthening of the Single Market and the European digital agenda.

The beginning of the implementation phase is expected to materialize in the coming weeks through the creation of an interim company in Brussels, Belgium, which will set out clear deliverables including the completion of the technical and operational roadmap and initiating the implementation work to achieve a best-in-class user experience.

Other payment service providers are invited to join the initiative. Until the end of 2020, a window remains open 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.

Below is a list of EPI’s founding members:

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