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European Payments Initiative

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European Payments Initiative
Operating areaEuropean Union Single Euro Payments Area
Members20 major European banks

The European Payments Initiative (EPI), previously known as the Pan-European Payments System Initiative (PEPSI),[1] is a unified digital payment service backed by 16 European banks and payment service providers. Its aim is to allow European consumers and merchants to make next-generation payments for all types of person-to-person transfers and retail transactions via a digital wallet, called wero. Wero is based on instant account-to-account payments and will eliminate intermediaries in the payment chain and associated costs.

It is supported by the European Commission, and currently comprises fourteen major European banks and two acquirers (including all the major French banks, Deutsche Bank in Germany.)[2]

First attempt[edit]

The idea of introducing a pan-European card scheme within the Single Euro Payments Area was born around 2008. In 2010, major European banks from more than ten countries met at the "Madrid Symposium" to discuss the initiative and make plans to take it forward. By 2011, the Monnet Project had developed detailed technical and business plans for the merger of national payment schemes. By then, it included 24 banks drawn from seven countries. However, the proponents of the new system did not believe they could develop a viable business model that did not include commercially viable interchange fees for the participating banks, a concern they raised with the European Commission. The commission was unwilling to allow any movement that could erode free competition, and therefore refused to endorse any system, even a new entrant, with interchange fees that exceeded the low level that the commission was seeking.

Commercial interests prevailing over a pan-European solution, and in the absence of a clear source of income for the issuing banks, progress on the project was put to a halt. It was dissolved in April 2012 due to "the perceived absence of a viable business model", according to the European Central Bank.[3]


In July 2020, a group of 16 major European banks from five countries (Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain) announced their support and development programs for the European Payments Initiative (EPI). These banks include: BBVA, BNP Paribas, Groupe BPCE, CaixaBank, Commerzbank, Crédit Agricole, Crédit Mutuel, Deutsche Bank, Deutscher Sparkassen- und Giroverband, DZ Bank, ING, KBC Group, La Banque Postale, Banco Santander, Société Générale and UniCredit.[4] In 2021 more than 30 banks were member, including Bancontact/Payconiq.[5] In mid-2020, it was expected that the first real-world applications - a system for real-time payments between consumers - could be launched in early 2022, with a broader payments tool to follow in the second half of 2022.[6]


As it is based on the SEPA instant credit transfer (SCT Inst) scheme, EPI's payment network can immediately capitalise on powerful and sophisticated existing infrastructures, such as the Eurosystem's TARGET Instant Payment Settlement (TIPS).[7] The EPI will have a payment network, a wallet, and an international instant payments scheme as a replacement for domestic solutions such as Swish, iDEAL, Bizum and Blik. NFC payments and QR code payment will be made available. The solution will be available through mobile banking integration, but also as a standalone app, and will contain currency conversion throughout the whole of Europe. The first countries where this will be implemented are Belgium, France and Germany.[8]

Acquisition iDEAL & Payconiq[edit]

EPI Company has acquired iDEAL and Payconiq International. EPI will initially enable person-to-person (P2P) and person-to-professional (P2Pro) payments, followed by online and mobile shopping payments and then point-of-sale payments. A comprehensive range of transaction types will be supported, including one-off payments, subscriptions, installments, payments upon delivery and reservations. Additionally, value-added services will be incorporated into the solution over time, including responsible ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ (BNPL) financing, digital identity features (How to track the consumer in every EU country and block payments when needed) and integration of merchant loyalty programmes. [9][10]

The European Payments Initiative (EPI) has announced to launch under the name 'Wero' in France, Germany and Belgium in mid-2024, followed by the Netherlands. The rest of Europe will follow in subsequent years.[11]


  1. ^ Keohane, David (9 June 2021). "Why Europe's banks want to end US dominance in payments". www.ft.com. Retrieved 23 June 2021. It got off to a rocky start last summer when US soft drinks group PepsiCo objected to its proposed name: The Pan-European Payment System Initiative, or, PEPSI.
  2. ^ Benhamou, Éric (29 June 2020). "Paiements : vingt banques européennes lancent leur propre système". Les Echos (in French). Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  3. ^ Evans, David S. (1 October 2014). "How the Proposed Payments Legislation Will Restrain Competition Among Payment Card Schemes and Harm Consumers in the European Union". Social Science Research Network. doi:10.2139/ssrn.2503696. S2CID 167639084. SSRN 2503696.
  4. ^ "Major Eurozone banks start the implementation phase of the European Payments Initiative". thepaypers.com.
  5. ^ Dendooven, Pascal. "Europa zet aanval op MasterCard en Visa in". De Standaard (in Dutch). Retrieved 4 May 2021.
  6. ^ "Europe's largest banks plan joint attack on US payments giants". Financial Times. 3 May 2021. Retrieved 4 May 2021.
  7. ^ Bank, European Central (2 July 2020). "ECB welcomes initiative to launch new European payment solution" – via www.ecb.europa.eu. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ "Exclusive interview with Martina Weimert, CEO of the EPI Interim Company". thepaypers.com. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  9. ^ "EPI acquires iDEAL and Payconiq International". The Paypers. 1 November 2023. Retrieved 22 January 2024.
  10. ^ "EPI successfully completes acquisition of iDEAL and Payconiq International". Epi company. 31 October 2023. Retrieved 22 January 2024.
  11. ^ Dumitrescu, Irina (21 September 2023). "European Payments Initiative selects "wero" as commercial name for its innovative digital wallet". European Payments Initiative. Retrieved 24 October 2023.

See also[edit]