Worldline and Crédit Agricole have signed a non-binding exclusive agreement to form a strategic partnership. The aim is to create a major player in the French payments market. Successful implementation of the tie-up offers both firms a unique opportunity to significantly expand their merchant services activities in France.

The firms say that the new company will be fully operational by 2025. It will combine Crédit Agricole’s merchant acquiring footprint, and distribution power with Worldline’s innovation, technology
and global infrastructure.

Worldline and Crédit Agricole strategic partnership key steps

The contemplated operation remains subject to both parties’ works council consultation and to corporate authorisations and regulatory approval:

  • 2023-2024: joint investment phase of €80m equally financed by Worldline and Crédit Agricole for the product and offering design, and joint company implementation
  • 2025 onwards: Full implementation of the joint company starting to generate revenues and OMDA.

Gilles Grapinet, CEO Worldline said“The contemplated strategic alliance between Worldline and Crédit Agricole is a landmark transaction. I am very proud that Worldline has been selected by Crédit Agricole for a strategic long-term partnership. This combines our merchant services capabilities, with the joint ambition to create a player able to deliver premier services to all merchants operating in France. The perfect fit of Worldline’s state-of-the-art products, technology and services at scale combined with Crédit Agricole Group unique distribution network and acquiring market leadership would be a key differentiating factor for our customers.

Worldline and Crédit Agricole strategic partnership: an ambitious and differentiating innovation roadmap

For Worldline, this is a unique opportunity to further expand our footprint. It will achieve scale within a few years on the largest continental European acquiring market. Through this strategic partnership, Worldline would also benefit from additional specific French market offerings. We intend to invest together with Crédit Agricole in an ambitious and differentiating innovation roadmap leveraging the Worldline leading-edge global value proposition.

Structured primarily as a contribution in kind of our respective technological capabilities, commercial footprint and distribution capabilities to a joint company, this major contemplated transaction fully preserves our balance sheet and financial and strategic flexibility.”

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Strengthening Crédit Agricole market leadership

Jean-Paul Mazoyer, Deputy General Manager of Crédit Agricole in charge of Technology, Digital and Payments, added: “Payments are a cornerstone of the relationship with our customers. This is a strategic business for Credit Agricole Group. The partnership with Worldline allows us to strengthen our market leadership in France for merchant payment solutions. It fully aligns with Credit Agricole’s 2025 ambitions to outperform the market growth by 2x on merchant payments solutions. Worldline is a French and European leader in in-store and online acceptance and a prominent payments processor in Europe.

Worldline is already a trusted partner of the Credit Agricole. Through this deepened strategic partnership, we would jointly develop comprehensive services for French merchants on the whole merchant services value chain (acceptance and acquiring). This is a fast-moving and critical area to their business. This integrated mastery would allow us to equip merchants with innovative all-in-one offers that integrate natively in their ecosystem and provide value added business services.”

Attractive and evolving French payment market

France is a highly attractive and strategic market for Worldline. France is the second largest economy in Continental Europe. It enjoys robust economic performance, sustained by consistent policy frameworks and strong institutions together with an attractive investment environment.

The French payment industry shows solid dynamics with a sizable and growing addressable market. This combines with a high level of readiness and receptiveness towards cashless payment methods. With aggregated Merchant Sales Value (MSV) of c€700bn, the French payment market is by far the largest payment market in Continental Europe.

Cash penetration in France: 36.6% of transaction volume – GlobalData

Cash penetration remains high and accounts for a share of 36.6% of transaction volume in France according to GlobalData. The corresponding figure in the UK is only 11.0%. Cash continues to be used for low-value payments in France. The emergence of contactless technology has gradually pushed French consumers to adopt payment cards for low-value transactions, thereby reducing the use of cash.

Accordingly, the French market offers an attractive growth opportunity for further cash displacement. Combined with French “Cartes Bancaires” domestic scheme and its strong and resilient market share capturing c.80% of card transactions volumes, these market trends make France a particularly attractive country in the broader European context.