Whereas in Europe the debate has started, as well as the initiatives to create a new single pan-European instrument direct paymentsto the chariot of which will be attached the Interbank systems member countries – as a defense against developments such as Apple Pay and other related apps – the percentage of direct payments in the EU is still at a very low level.
Today, the average instant payments in the EU is only 14% – there are markets with a percentage that exceeds 50% – and, as instant payments gurus pointed out at the conference yesterday Payments 360, organized by DIAS, is, as they say overseas, “too big to die, too small to live”.
14% of direct payments in the EU correspond to 3 billion transactions per year and its main competitors are… credit cards, the Visa and Mastercard brands. Because cards are another channel, Europe’s goal of further reducing cash requires enabling and increasing instant payments.
In Greece, the approach of direct payments, which are made via IRIS free of charge and in a few seconds, without the use of an iban, but only by contacting the number on the mobile phone (from the application of each bank) is growing in person to personal transactions (with 1.6 million users), but more needs to be done to increase transactional activity in e-commerce.
As much as the banks do not encourage the commercial public to use direct interbank payments (for obvious reasons: fees), they risk, not only Greece, but also the whole of Europe, losing customer share Americans or Chinese competitors, such as the Chinese Alipay or Apple’s entry into the banking sector thanks to the partnership with Goldman.
In this sense, our country should perhaps increase the rate of use of direct payments, mainly in the e-commerce sector, where the share through IRIS is marginally low, less than 1%, as pointed out by the Director General of DIAS, Stavroula Kambouridoumoderate a related panel.
The first 2 in Europe: the Polish BLIK and the Spanish BIZUM
In the panel, the first two mobile instant payment forces in Europe (IRIS type), none other than Polish Blik and Spanish BIZUM. As the CEO of BLIK pointed out, Darius Mazurkiewicz, in Poland today 67% of e-commerce transactions are made via BLIK and the ambition of the company, which only started in 2015 as a small fintech, is, in addition to the majority of Poles, to appeal equally to the French, Germans and other European citizens, has already announced the extension of its solution to Romania and Slovakia. In Spain, the percentage of use of Bizum in e-commerce will reach 25% this year.
Which means that BLIK (or Bizum) could potentially reach out to Greece as well, attracting the country’s trading public and bank customers and becoming an “aggressive” competitor to the banks themselves, if the Greek IRIS does not multiply. not the frequency and amount of its direct transactions. This is partly the responsibility of the banks themselves, which should invest more in its promotion.
The “threat” of BLİK, like of course any other European, Asian and American fintech or bigtech (Apple type), lies in the fact that the strategy of these players is to increase their income through acquisitions, partnerships and cross-border expansions. Both BLIK and Spain’s BIZUM have great support from their shareholders (commercial banks) whose CEOs consider these products as their children, and have been involved from day one in the product’s strategic decisions.
As mentioned by the CEO of Blik, his solution is preferred by merchants because it charges them lower commissions compared to cards and the money is directly in their accounts.
It sounds far-fetched, but it’s not, as everyone at yesterday’s 360 Payments conference noted, as well as BIZUM’s Business Development Manager, Fernando Rodríguez Ferrer, stressing the need to invest in direct payment systems, both at national and European level. level.
The creation of a single pan-European means of direct payments
Meanwhile, the idea of creating a single European instant payment wallet was discussed yesterday in Athens, which is being promoted by ENP (European Payments Initiative). Speaking on the subject o Etienne Guspreviously Director of the European Payments Council with the Head of Innovation of the ECB, Holger Neuhausand the President of EMPSA, the European Association of Mobile Payment Systems, Dr. Christian Pirknerdescribed the need for a single pan-European interbank direct payment instrument – as a shield and defense against similar successful initiatives from Asia and the United States.
It should be noted that just a few days ago, EPI, after welcoming the entry of four new shareholders (reaching a total of 18 shareholders, banks and payment companies), announced two other acquisitions of national payment systems : THE IDEALwhich is an original Danish payment system, and the IQPcorresponding proposal from Belgium and Luxembourg.
Simply put, EPI was founded and caters to the payment systems industry in Europe and is comprised of leading strengths. Its objective is to enable European banks to join forces and improve their position in the world ranking of innovative companies in payment systems. Working for the benefit of the consumer and the trader, within the framework of EU and ECB policy.
Much remains to be done at European level, first of all the establishment of rules and the promotion of direct payments at higher rates, and in Greece even more, to give a commonly accepted alternative means of payment to merchants who seem ask it.
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