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The Independent UK
The Independent UK

Cutting the card: how Payconiq is building a borderless future for European payments


Payconiq is a Business Reporter client.

Economies run on payments – from buying a newspaper to settling your taxes, the movement of capital is the lifeblood of business and growth. The launch of the euro in 1999 was designed to streamline that journey, creating a common financial language between disparate states and a stable, collaborative system that would protect trade and create a strong, global economy.

However, in the era of digital business, trade and finance, payment harmony requires more than a common currency. For much of the last century, non-cash payments have been dominated by cards – first plastic, then digital – all controlled by a few US-based businesses.

As consumers and businesses embrace real-time payments, mobile apps and e-commerce, regulators are eyeing a new infrastructure revolution to create a new, unified instant payment scheme and platform for Europe – the European Payments Initiative (EPI). The goal is to build a unique global advantage built on integration, convenience and innovation, and it is powered by Payconiq International.

The case for a united payment market

The EPI comprises 16 European banks and financial services companies, including BFCM, BNP Paribas, BPCE, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, DSGV, ING, KBC, La Banque Postale, Nexi, Société Générale and Worldline.

Day-to-day, the businesses involved compete, innovate and chase their own bottom lines, but here we see a rare collaboration between public and private bodies for a collective good, based on sound business and political logic.

“While payments are big business, they only work with scale, which is why partnerships such as this are so important,” explains Guido Vermeent, CEO of Payconiq International. “In the digital payments race, incumbent institutions have seen customers lured away by Silicon Valley, being relegated to background players by the likes of Apple and Amazon. Meanwhile, events such as the exclusion of Russia from the SWIFT international payment scheme in response to the invasion of Ukraine have highlighted the importance of payment sovereignty.”

EPI aligns the interests of financial institutions with the financial future of the bloc, ensuring bespoke solutions that match the needs of the EU payment market, including the union’s stricter regulations around data protection, ethics and technological standards, which keep consumers safer.

“It all starts with an all-in-one solution for a digital wallet and direct payment, from account to account, under one European brand, opening the door to other value-added services such as buy-now-pay-later, digital identity functionality and savings and loyalty programmes,” says Stijn Van Brussel, COO of Payconiq International.

Joining the dots on European integration

While business has become increasingly global, payments have traditionally been enabled, regulated and run on a local level, using national rails, banks and partnerships.

“Across Europe, a mix of domestic card schemes and international players have kept capital moving across the continent, offering businesses limited options when it comes to fees, lead times and service levels, especially when working across borders,” explains Vermeent.

“The lack of a truly European payment solution creates more incentive for existing part-players to join forces for mutual benefit. However, this requires a broad solution to cover the wide range of use-cases.”

Payconiq was founded to offer consumers and businesses across Europe the most user-friendly payment solution ever – a continent-spanning initiative with roots in one of the bloc’s smallest members.

Since being founded in 2015, the company has expanded across borders as a provider-agnostic account-to-account (A2A) technology provider. Payconiq has partnered with leading schemes across Europe, including iDEAL, Bancontact Payconiq Company in Belgium and Payconiq in Luxembourg, to build a flexible platform around existing bank back-end technology that now processes over a billion transactions annually.

“We’ve focused on building a collaborative, win-win mindset between scheme and a broad group of stakeholders in the retail payments space, which has helped us become an established, regulated, trustworthy partner that can deliver the reliability, reporting and risk management that a cross-continent payments network requires,” says Van Brussel.

The potential of a connected continent

Payments never operate in a vacuum – the EPI sits alongside other open payment frameworks, such as PSD2 and SEPA Payment Account Access, which are offering businesses and consumers more choice in how they move their money.

At the heart of all these is the ability to move money directly from your account on your terms, cutting out unnecessary fees, delays and dependencies from the way we live and pay. By moving beyond cards, consumers and businesses will soon be able to embrace instant payments, simpler cost structures and additional, flexible services beyond anything legacy schemes can offer.

As the project moves forward, Payconiq is working to ensure that stakeholders will be better placed to make the most of these changes and compete in an increasingly global, dynamic economy, making payments work for the European Union, and everyone in it.

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