Although Europe lacks a pan-regional system to compete with worldwide card networks, creating and sparking one entails providing consumers and businesses a reason to join — something that is now lacking, according to Gijs Boudewijn, general manager of the Netherlands Payments Association.
“There is little demand, especially among consumers.” They can receive a bank card that works all the time and everywhere. “But why will they need anything else?” questioned Boudewijn.
It’s a goal that the European Payments Initiative (EPI) has been attempting to achieve with a pan-European payment system that will compete with major international card networks like Mastercard and Visa and eventually replace national European payment schemes like France’s Carte Bancaire and Germany’s Girocard.
Yet, while some shops think that foreign credit card rates are excessive, Boudewijn believes that the premise that a European solution may offer cheaper prices to merchants has yet to be validated.
“For it to be successful, it must be better and cheaper than what you now have.” If not, why would retailers take the payments in the first place? “They will not do it just for ideological or geopolitical grounds,” he explained in an interview.
Then there’s the severely divided European landscape, which he describes as “both the beauty and the beast of Europe.” This difficulty, he observed, has also hampered the work of various pan-European initiatives, such as the digital euro and the development of interoperability among European Mobile Payment Systems Association (EMPSA) members, resulting in poor outcomes thus far.