Maestro debit scheme, which has already been selected by Belgium’s
Banksys network as the replacement for its existing domestic debit
scheme, has been chosen by Germany’s Sparda banking group as the
replacement for its domestic debit scheme in the run-up to the
implementation of the Single Euro Payments Area

Sparda is scrapping its electronic cash (ec) scheme in favour of
using Maestro for both national and international debit card
payments.Sparda is a co-operative banking group comprising 12
German banks with 2.65 million members, and will make the
transition to Maestro in early 2007. Until now, Sparda’s debit
cards had been enabled with the Maestro brand exclusively for
cross-border payments, while German card payments were possible
only through the ec debit card scheme. Sparda said that with the
transition to Maestro, it would become the first fully
SEPA-compliant solution in Germany.

Sparda said the decision to switch to Maestro would result in
increased functionality and value for both consumers and merchants.
One of the key benefits for merchants would be the ability to
accept debit cards that employ the same processes and technical
standards for both national and foreign debit transactions, and a
reduction in fraudulent activity due to the PIN-based system. Also,
it will be possible to group all debit payment transactions with
one merchant card acquiring service provider. Sparda said that this
is expected to lead to a significant reduction in the current costs
of processing card payments for the retail sector, especially the
larger merchants active in multiple countries.

According to MasterCard, the new Sparda Bank Maestro card will be
accepted at more than 7 million merchant locations in Germany,
Europe and worldwide. There are currently 280 million Maestro
cardholders in Europe.