Visa Europe and France-based payment-services provider SAS Carte Bleue today announced the completion of a merger involving the companies’ French operations and the creation of Visa France.

The merger will enable Visa Europe to have more direct relationships with French banks so it may more easily meet their needs, according to a Visa statement. Carte Bleue has a 35-year relationship with Visa and helps banks adapt to the card brand’s programs. Carte Bleue Visa is the leading bankcard brand in France, according to Visa.

“This is the ideal development of a successful relationship [with Carte Bleue],” Peter Ayliffe, Visa Europe president and CEO, said in a press release. “It recognizes that the strength of Visa Europe’s association model delivers a truly European owned and controlled payments system.”

The merger is still subject to approval from the French competition and tax authorities.

Ayliffe believes French banks additionally will benefit from “a SEPA-compliant development of their card-payments business in France with local control.” SEPA, the Single Euro Payments Area, covers card transactions, direct debits and credit transfers and is designed to create a cross-border market for electronic payments.

Some banks in France have been reluctant to support direct debits under SEPA, survey results last year from Ireland-based credit bureau Experian PLC suggested.

Visa France will continue providing banks with products and services customized to the French market. Visa Europe also will form a “national organization” open to all Visa member banks in France “to provide local governance on domestic Visa matters,” according to a company statement.

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