Six banks in Poland have created a joint venture to develop common mobile payment standards to comply with national regulations — a move that leaves card networks out of the equation.

The venture represents a significant move in Poland, mainly because the payments would be linked to bank accounts rather than card accounts, says Zil Bareisis, a London-based senior analyst for research firm Celent.

"While we may not have enough data points yet to call it a trend, it's certainly something that we (Celent) are keeping an eye on, as we see banks in other markets thinking about or doing something in this space," Bareisis says.

When making the announcement last week, the banks — Alior Bank, Bank Millennium, Bank Zachodni WBK, BRE Bank, ING Bank Slaski and PKO Bank Polski — noted they account for 70% of Poland's electronic banking market.

Their mobile payment system will be based on PKO Bank Polski's IKO mobile wallet application, which it launched in March. When introducing IKO mobile payments to its customers, the bank stated on its website, "IKO stands for 4G mobile banking, an application combining banking, such as account balance, account history checking and money transfers, with the payment function for shopping in conventional and online stores, and for cash withdrawals from ATMs."

The IKO app generates a code that customers key in to make in-store payments and ATM withdrawals. Customers can also send money to recipients by entering a mobile phone number. Barclay's Pingit person-to-person mobile pay system in the U.K. operates in a similar manner, and late last month Barclays added the ability for Pingit users to pay retailers.

Boguslaw Kott, CEO of Bank Millennium, made it clear in a statement to Reuters that the banks involved in the joint venture intend to challenge Visa and MasterCard.

"This will be a more competitive system compared to the credit card system," Kott stated. "The credit card system will probably be put under a question mark in the future."

None of the six banks will have a position of leadership over the others, the banks stated in a press release. Each bank will use the IKO mobile payment platform, but add its own features to the system. In addition, the group says it is open to bringing other banks and acquirers into the fold.

"We are convinced that the initiative stands a very good chance to become a commonly used standard," Mateusz Morawiecki, chairman of the Bank Zachodni WBK management board, states in the release.

Because IKO is a mobile payment method designed to deliver a consistent user experience, the venture's project should resonate with consumers, Bareisis says.

"Many digital wallets today cannot do the same things as IKO," Bareisis adds.

However, taking the IKO application from a single-bank, closed-loop environment to an open-loop, multi-bank proposition will create some challenges for the participating banks as they add their own features, Bareisis says.

"The impact on the card schemes will depend on the ultimate success of this venture and other similar solutions as well as how customers end up using these systems," Bareisis adds.

London-based Vocalink's Zapp is similar to what the Polish banks are attempting to accomplish, Bareisis says.

The Polish joint venture is hoping to have the IKO mobile pay system in place at the participating banks prior to the Christmas shopping season this year.

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