European Debit Card Networks Aim At Visa, MasterCard - Articles - PaymentsSource
For the Love of Monnet
August 13, 2009
Source: ATM&Debit News
MasterCard Inc. and Visa Europe could face competition in the coming years from new European-centered payment card networks such as Payfair and Monnet. Belgian retailer Colruyt Group is planning to begin testing the Payfair debit card at about five stores in October, with a broader rollout expected in 2010. "We have several million cards to be issued potentially," says Dominque Buysschaert, chief executive of European Payment Solutions, a Belgian transaction processor involved in the Payfair project.
The moves come as Europe is shifting to the Single Euro Payments Area, which offers a common electronic network that spans the Continent. One of the proposed systems claims support from some of Europe's largest banks. Deutsche Bank AG of Germany and the French banking companies Societe Generale and BNP Paribas are planning to roll out a card system called Monnet, which is named after a 20th-century French economist who was a key proponent of European unity.
"Monnet is an investment in innovation and in the independency of the European banks," Hermann-Josef Lamberti, Deutsche Bank chief operating officer, said last month at a conference of central bank executives in Frankfurt. In October, the banks expect to create a "project company" that would develop the framework for the Monnet system, he said. Monnet is designed to compete against what a board member of the Deutsche Bundesbank, Germany's central bank, earlier this summer called a "duopoly of the two international card companies."
Such views are hardly uncommon among European financial regulators, which have barred some cross-border transaction fees Visa and MasterCard impose, calling them and other card practices anticompetitive.
"A European network will go along with the political and economic agenda of the" European Union, says Adil Moussa, an analyst at Aite Group LLC. Part of the motivation behind these efforts is "nationalistic pride," but creating a euro-centric payment infrastructure would also create jobs and "retain some of the wealth" that otherwise would go to U.S. companies and shareholders, he says.
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