New European Alliance Formed To Enable Mobile Payment Systems Interoperability

New European Alliance Formed To Enable Mobile Payment Systems Interoperability

by September 11, 2019

Seven independent mobile payment systems in Europe have teamed up to form the European Mobile Payment Systems Association (EMPSA), an organization headquartered in Zurich tasked to create a European network of the seven mobile payment solutions.

Members of EMPSA include Twint (Switzerland), Bancontact Payconiq Company (Belgium), Bluecode (Germany and Austria), MobilePay (Denmark and Finland), Sibs/MB Way (Portugal), Swish (Sweden), and Vipps (Norway). Altogether, the seven companies have around 25 million registered users, over one million acceptance points and some 350 banks supporting the systems.

EMPSA said its mid-term goal is to make it possible for the seven companies’ combined 25 million users to use all of the individual systems in each of the member countries.

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In practice, this means that, for example, a Twint user from Switzerland would be able to travel to Sweden and pay for goods at any story accepting Swish directly through the Twint app. This also means that Switzerland’s Twint will be usable in Belgium, Germany, Austria, Finland, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden and Norway.

EMPSA has already set up a working group co-chaired by Bjørn Skjelbred from Vipps and Christian Pirkner of Bluecode to review the technical issues surrounding interoperability.

Søren Mose, chairman of EMPSA and chairman of the Twint board of directors, said that with this international cooperation, the company wants to “accommodate our users’ wishes of also being able to use the tried-and-tested systems internationally.”

Twint CEO Markus Kilb believes the initiative will help promote the interoperability and international use of the mobile payment systems and “establish a genuine European alternative means of payment.”

Twint, a joint venture between Switzerland’s biggest banks including UBS and Credit Suisse, is Switzerland’s leading mobile payment system, recording some 1.7 million users and around 4 million transactions made every month.

Twint supports online and in-store payments, as well as peer-to-peer transfers, and is accepted in practically all major retail stores in Switzerland, including Coop, Migros, Spar and Volg, as well as the mobility sector, allowing for payments to be made with the SBB, BLS, many private railway networks, Fairtiq, TCS and the largest provider of electric charging stations “evpass”.

Anna-Lena Wretman, vice chairwoman of EMPSA and CEO of Swish, said the ability to carry out Swish payments outside of Sweden was “a high priority among our seven million users.”

“With EMPSA, we are now taking a significant step towards enabling it, while also strengthening our European collaboration between wallets,” Wretman said.

EMPSA is the latest initiative in Europe focusing on digital payment interoperability. In June, Vipps and Bluecode joined a consortium with four other European mobile wallets and China’s Alipay to adopt a unified QR code format to provide seamless and enhanced services to travelers, expats and merchants.

The initiative aims to allow users of the participating digital wallets to be able to make QR code-based payments with their home apps to local merchants in ten European countries where those apps are accepted.

Merchants that accept mobile payments via any of the six apps in their respective domestic markets will be able to accept payments made by customers of the other countries covered by the collaboration.

Besides Vipps and Bluecode, mobile wallet providers part of the initiative include ePassi, momo pocket, Pagaqui and Pivo.

Non-cash transactions in Europe increased at a healthy rate of 7.7% in 2016, led by Germany, Spain, Finland, Greece, Sweden and Denmark, according to Capgemini’s World Payments Report.

Non-cash transactions are expected to grow faster in Europe than in the US as regulatory authorities introduce initiatives such as the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2), which encourage and foster innovation.


Featured image credit: Edited from Unsplash