Visa Europe has struck its second
issuance agreement for V PAY, its Single Euro Payment Area
(SEPA)-compliant pan-European debit card scheme. The issuing banks
are Capitalia, ICCREA Banca, Banca Sella, Banca Carige and Gruppo
Banca Popolare Emilia Romagna, all in Italy. They will start
issuing cards to cardhaolders before the end of 2007.

The launch of V PAY in Italy represents a huge step forward for
Visa in its efforts to drive growth in Europe’s debit market, as
Italy is one of the strongest debit markets in the region. As of
December 2005, there were over 26.5 million debit cards in
circulation in Italy, the bulk of which belong to the national
Bancomat/Pagobancomat scheme, with which V PAY will be

V PAY is a crucial component of Visa’s growth strategy in
Europe, given that over 70 percent of Visa Europe’s business comes
from debit. As of September 2006, Visa Europe had 197 million debit
cards in circulation, a rise of 10.9 percent compared to the
year-ago period. Point of sale consumer expenditure value on debit
cards was €520 billion, an increase of 16.7 percent. So far Visa
Europe has signed up 60 acquirers for V PAY across 25 markets,
accounting for over 90 percent of Visa Europe’s sales volume.

Peter Ayliffe, president and CEO of Visa Europe, announced the
landmark deal at Visa Europe’s membership conference in Rome on 26
April. “We are delighted to announce the introduction of V PAY in
Italy,” he said. “The decision of the five banks to issue V PAY
underlines the fact that it meets the needs of Italian banks and
their move towards SEPA. We are convinced that other banks will
recognise the benefits and follow soon.”

The news follows the November 2006 announcement of Visa Europe’s
issuance agreement with the association of German co-operative
banks (BVR), DZ Bank and WGZ Bank. V PAY will be co-badged with
Germany’s electronic cash scheme, and the deal covers around 23
million cards and 1,200 banks in the German market.

Developing pan-European payments

V PAY, which is chip and PIN-enabled, is already accepted at
3.75 million POS terminals and over 210,000 ATMs across Europe. In
2006, Visa Europe set up the V PAY Steering Committee, which
includes representation from major European banks. The V PAY
Italian Board, formed with the Italian banks, started its
activities in March 2007, taking responsibility for the development
and roll-out of V PAY in Italy.

Davide Steffanini, general manager of the Visa Europe office in
Italy, said: “Thanks to the agreements we have reached with these
Visa Europe member banks in Italy, V PAY cards will be the first
fully SEPA-compliant debit card available in the country and will
make payments within Europe easier and safer.”

Francesco Avallone, vice-president of Federconsumatori, an
Italian consumer group, said: “We are delighted that this new
product is being introduced in Italy. It will grant banks’
customers more security, simplicity and the ability to pay all over
Europe while enjoying the same economic conditions as in Italy. We
are sure this product will help the development of a strong
European payment market. V PAY makes pan-European payments safer
and more transparent which will increase card usage across the
region and benefit all consumers by optimising operation

Number of Visa debit cards in Europe