European mobile payment firms team to push cross-border interoperability

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Seven European mobile payment firms have formed a cross-border transaction association covering an addressable market covering 25 million users and 350 banks.

Called the European Mobile Payments Systems Association (EMPSA), it will cooperate on acceptance in an attempt to streamline transaction processing.

EMPSA is headquartered in Zurich and is chaired by Søren Mosel, the chairman of the board of directors at the Swiss mobile payments firm TWINT. In addition to TWINT, EMPSA’s membership includes Bancontact Payconiq Company (Belgium), Bluecode (Germany and Austria), MobilePay (Finland and Denmark), SIBS/MB WAY (Portugal), Swish (Sweden) and VIPPS (Norway). In total these seven companies cover more than 1 million acceptance points.

The creation of EMPSA comes at a time when several foreign mobile payment services have entered Europe and are attempting to create a global mobile payments alternative. Apple Pay launched in Germany and Belgium in 2018 having achieved success in other European markets. Today Apple Pay is active in more than 40 European countries including the U.K., Switzerland, France, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Greece, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, the Netherlands and Belgium.

The companies also support different payment methods. In December 2018 TWINT and Apple reached an agreement in which Apple Pay would not interfere at the point of sale when a consumer is attempting to make a purchase with TWINT. Since TWINT’s launch two years the company has become a leading mobile payments provider in Switzerland, with 1.7 million registered users and processes about 4 million transactions per month.

Swish recently began piloting an in-store contactless payments acceptance capability in Sweden through partnership with Nets. The Swish app was originally designed for account-to-account or P2P transfers when it was created in 2016. Since then it’s grown to more than 7 million users and has migrated to in-store usage. The vice chair for EMPSA will be Anna-Lena Wretman, the current CEO at Swish, will be EMPSA's vice chair; and Anton Stadelmann, the deputy CEO and CFO at TWINT, will also serve on the association's management team.

EMPSA has already set up a working group to establish joint system interoperability. The group is co-chaired by Bjørn Skjelbred from VIPPS and Christian Pirkner of Bluecode.

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Mobile payments Cross border payments Payment processing Europe