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In its latest round of results unveiled this week, Visa reported that payment volumes were up by a tenth over the quarter to March. Excluding Europe, cross-border volumes rose by just under a third. "Consumer payments remains a massive opportunity for Visa," Ryan McInerney, the network's chief executive, commented on an earnings call, adding that "there is a very long runway for growth in this business".
Mastercard's results followed yesterday, beating analyst expectations with a net revenue rise of 11 percent on higher spending in the travel and entertainment categories by wealthier cardholders: cross-border volumes were up by over a third.
The European Payments Initiative (EPI) took another step along the road towards providing an account-to-account solution for consumers across the continent this week with the announcement of a planned purchase of the Currence iDEAL scheme in the Netherlands along with Payconiq International (PQI), which has been processing iDEAL transactions.
Bolstered by this proven tech, EPI are planning to release a digital wallet by the end of this year, starting in the all-important markets of France and Germany, followed early next year by Belgium, where PQI is one of the providers behind Payconiq by Bancontact. The announcement notes that these three countries are responsible for over half of non-cash payments in the Eurozone and, not uncoincidentally, are home to the biggest names (BNP Paribas, BPCE, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank and Société Générale) among the roll call of backers.
There is serious intent behind the initiative, although the plan is more modest than the card-centred challenge to global schemes and tech-originated solutions that EPI's founders had once envisaged. The payments infrastructure needed has been commonplace in Europe for many years, but universal, cross-border access has been stymied by commercial incentives that have more or less kept the rails at a remove from consumers' phones, a situation that the EU's regulators and political leadership are now determined to change. A digital-identity service and BNPL dimension are also reportedly in the works.
Major banks and Big Tech are increasingly finding ways to cooperate: Citi and Amazon Pay have been teaming up since 2020, with the latest iteration this week seeing the latter now facilitating the former's credit-card holders to use Citi's BNPL format, Flex Pay, for repayments through a digital wallet for the first time.
The term can extend as long as four years, with the amount due folded into the card member's minimum payment each month. Purchases of $50 or more are eligible.
Other stories of interest this week...
China: Digital yuan to be used for some government wages
Singapore: Alipay+ integrates with QR standard for hawker acceptance
US: Fed reports unprecedented growth in ACH payments value
US: Reverse ATMs let cashless stores accept money for prepaid cards
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