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Western Europe Merchant Acquiring: Consolidation, Complexity and Growth

27 May 2020
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Although it is a highly developed payments market, Europe has plenty of unrealised potential, according to a new report from Verisk Financial Research.

Western Europe's merchant acquiring market is one of the most competitive, yet complex, globally. While the market is of a similar size to North America's, the region in many ways remains a collection of individual markets which makes a regional approach difficult to implement.

Though EU regulation has simplified licensing and encouraged the creation of a single market, expanding to new countries requires significant investment and the building of new partnerships, particularly when it comes to traditional POS acquiring. Domestic schemes, a feature of several markets, can create additional barriers to entry and are often associated with lower margins.

Despite the challenges, the market is consolidating at pace with mergers and acquisitions the order of the day – hardly surprising given the importance of scale to the payments industry. Worldline is leading the charge, having snapped up competitors including SIX Payment Services and Ingenico, and now holds a strong position in several European markets. Similarly, the merger between Nets and Concardis creates a regional powerhouse.

Although it is a highly developed payments market, Europe has plenty of unrealised potential. Cash use has been suppressed in parts of the region, most notably in Scandinavia, but further south it remains the preferred payment method for many.

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Across the sixteen markets covered by Verisk Financial Research in the Western Europe region, there were 78 billion card purchases in 2019. This was 83 per cent more than the equivalent figure in 2013 when there were 42 billion purchases. The average adult made 217 credit and debit card purchases in 2019, with levels varying widely across the region, from 67 transactions per person in Italy to over 600 in Norway. There is potential for the region's cards market to more than double in volume in the coming years if use can be encouraged in underpenetrated areas.

Covering 16 countries – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom – Verisk Financial Research's Merchant Acquiring: Western Europe report will help you to review your current strategies in a rapidly evolving market, benchmark your activities against your peers – nationally, regionally and internationally – and enable you to prepare for the future with confidence. Order Merchant Acquiring: Western Europe report..