Pan-European payment service: caution on the part of Spanish banks

Although Spanish banks are showing interest in the European Payments Initiative (EPI), the new pan-European payment service, they are nonetheless showing a degree of reluctance. Their main concern is Bizum, the Spanish shared payment platform, and its future place within EPI.

The future of Spanish payment platform Bizum in question

The new pan-European payment service, European Payments Initiative (EPI), is taking shape day by day. It currently brings together 22 major banks, from Finland to Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and Spain. All of them have been asked to approve a commitment of 1.4 billion euros so that EPI can come into being as early as 2022.

While the investment is significant, it is not the only explanation for the reticence shown by Spanish banks. They have already invested in Bizum, a national platform for instant payment between individuals.

Launched in 2016, the Bizum platform, which is the fruit of an unprecedented union between almost all Iberian banks, is proving a great success in Spain. It now boasts almost 20 million users, almost half of the country's 47 million inhabitants.

Bizum enables individuals to make instant mobile payments by connecting to their bank's application. There's no need to enter your bank card number, or to know the recipient's account number: the bank takes care of it, and the money is transferred in a matter of seconds.


Spanish banks seek to make the most of their situation

The place of the Bizum platform, in which 29 players covering 96% of the Spanish market participate, within the new pan-European payment service has not been clarified.

And yet, all the Spanish banks took part in the discussions to set up the European Payments Initiative, including BBVA, Santander, CaixaBank and the smaller players in the consortium led by Sabadell.

While the payment systems of some countries are increasingly losing market share to the digital giants, which means that the banks in these countries will come out ahead in any case from their participation in EPI, this is not the case for Spanish banks.

According to some, the European Payments Initiative is designed more for France and Germany, which justifies doubts as to the real weight of Spain in the governance of the future pan-European payment service.

In the absence of clarification,Spanish banks could opt for prudence by withdrawing from the project and rejoining it later, without having taken part in its financing.