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

“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.”