MasterCard and Europay have had an alliance
stretching back over 30 years, and now the two card networks are
focusing their efforts on the French market. Europay International
was formed in 1992 with the merger of Eurocard International and
Eurocheque International and in 2002 it became part of MasterCard
Europay processes domestic MasterCard
transactions for French banks and also acquires transactions for
foreign MasterCard cardholders in France and for French cardholders
abroad. In addition, it manages the development and adoption by
French banks of MasterCard’s products in France.
Now, in an effort to help banks provide
competitive payment services, Europay France has announced an
agreement with MasterCard Europe to integrate both companies’
French operations. The transaction is expected to be finalised by 1
April 2008 and will enable both domestic and international banks in
France to benefit from a direct relationship with MasterCard Europe
for payment services. The French market is a priority one for
MasterCard in Europe.

New joint company

Under the terms of the agreement, a new joint company is to be
formed, for which MasterCard Europe has announced the appointment
of Emmanuel Petit as general manager. Petit will be responsible for
leading the integration process, before assuming the role of
general manager on 1 April 2008. MasterCard’s country manager in
France, Herve Kergoat, will aid Petit during the transition period
before becoming head of business development special projects in
April. Additional terms of the agreement have not been

“We will be working hard to continue to enhance
payment solutions available in France. I am relishing the prospect
of leading this new business during 2008 and beyond. We will be
offering a strong combination of market leading payment card
products and unrivalled global acceptance to French consumers and
retailers,” said Petit in a statement to the press.
The two parent companies already have a history
of pooling their strengths, with MasterCard International and
Europay International having merged their pan-European activities
in 2002. Under that agreement, Europay France has acted as a
contact between MasterCard Worldwide and financial institutions in
“This agreement is the result of a relationship
between Europay France and MasterCard which dates back more than 30
years,” said Jean-Claude Perchet, general manager of Europay
France. “We’re truly excited to be combining forces with MasterCard
to provide French banks with Europe-wide solutions, which will
enable them to become world class performers in the payments
industry and leaders in the SEPA market.”

Influence of SEPA

The joint agreement comes just as the SEPA initiative – which seeks
to enforce that cross-border payment instruments are made available
in all eurozone markets as well as national ones – is being
formally established. Last year, the French domestic market allowed
co-branded cards to be issued, further evidence of SEPA’s growing

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“This agreement is essential to strengthening
our direct presence in this market, and ensuring that French banks
can have a single point of contact for their electronic payment
needs. It also means that French consumers and retailers can enjoy
the benefits of a more competitive and richer range of card payment
products and increased acceptance,” said Alfredo Gangotena, general
manager for continental Europe at MasterCard. “Quite simply, we are
combining MasterCard’s international expertise, proven ability to
innovate and cutting-edge technology and marketing with the
technical and professional expertise and experience of Europay
“This recipe for success will help ensure banks
and merchants are ideally positioned to deliver payment products
and services to meet the needs of their French customers. This will
strengthen French banks in the intensely competitive international
marketplace and they will further benefit from a payments system
unrivalled in terms of both reliability and efficiency.”
The French financial market has long led the
way in payments sector innovation: November 2007, for example, saw
the launch of Europe’s first MasterCard PayPass contactless
payments trial involving co-branded cards. French banks were also
among the first to embrace chip technology, which has played a
major role in increasing card payment security.