Europe urged to develop own global payment services

By BLOOMBERG

LONDON • European Central Bank (ECB) policymaker Yves Mersch called on Europe to develop its own global card payment services to compete with international peers and as a defence against any further escalation in geopolitical tension.

Noting the dominance of California-based PayPal for online payments, and the services offered by Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc, Facebook Inc and Amazon.com Inc, Mersch warned that European providers such as Germany’s Girocard and France’s Cartes Bancaire are too nationally focused.

“Our reliance on non-European card schemes for domestic payments in Europe is suboptimal,” he said in a speech in Paris yesterday. “I fear that global giants from outside Europe will use their network power to increase their presence further.”

The ECB board member, whose portfolio at the central bank includes payment systems, said European banks seemed to have “surrendered” much of the business, with the strong regulatory framework in the European Union (EU) “exploited” by multinationals.

Chinese companies Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd are also advancing, he said.

Mersch noted the risk of such dependence on third countries at a time when tariff threats from US President Donald Trump’s administration are raising tensions between the US and its trade partners. While the EU shouldn’t resort to protectionism to “artificially” promote its own payment services, it should address the lack of European providers.