With Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) objectives taking longer to implement than first thought and payments giants fighting with local networks over debit card acceptance, a number of less obvious providers are moving into the European payments sphere.
Nick Senechal, head of product development at UK-based VocaLink, operator of the world’s busiest ATM switching platform, said his business is looking to expand further into the European payments market.
In particular, Senechal said there was an increasing focus on “niche point of sale” and “ATM-based point of sale” services, a term he uses to describe services including mobile phone top ups and cash deposits at ATMs.
“One of the key objectives of our cards services business is to move away from just being a pure ATM supplier to being more of an electronic payments player,” Senechal said.
“We do see that while cash has been continuing to grow, it will eventually start to decline, meaning the number of transactions will decline.”
That is not the case currently though, with the Link network of ATMs recording its highest value of cash withdrawals on the UK’s May bank holiday.
Still, Senechal admits the underlying trend is for cash to be replaced by electronic means over time, which poses problems for ATM businesses as cash withdrawals are replaced by point of sale purchases. VocaLink’s immediate plan is to use the Link network to support low-value mobile-to-mobile payments. It also has its sights set on further expansion into Europe, where Senechal sees ATM outsourcing as a developing trend.
“One of the things we see is that whilst in the UK there is not a particularly fertile market for new providers for things like ATM acquiring, as the market is pretty much saturated,” Senechal added.
“We see a developing market for ATM outsourcing in continental Europe, particularly in the Benelux countries and Germany.
“Many of the developments we are pursuing there are around things like the implementation of automated cash machines, where you can put cash into the machine as well as take it out, which moves us from ATM acquiring into a sort of POS system.”