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 challenging to implement.
The latest regional merchant acquirers report from Verisk Financial Research combines in-depth information on Western Europe's key acquiring markets with a region-wide view of industry developments.
Topics covered include industry consolidation – with profiles of the key players and their strategies – trends in card use, the growth of e-commerce and contactless, the rise of payments facilitators, and developments in alternative payments.
This report combines insightful commentary explaining the context of market developments with up-to-date data on each country's cards, merchant acquirers and online acquiring markets.
This merchant acquirers market report on Western Europe features:
With macro-level commentary on the region's payments landscape, plus country-level insight underpinned by extensive market data, this report is essential to understanding developments and opportunities in Western Europe's acquiring market.
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Although European Union 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 ...
While Europe is a highly developed payments market, there is plenty of unrealised potential. Although cash use has been suppressed in parts of the region (most notably in Scandinavia), further south it remains the preferred payment method for many.
Worldline and Card Complete Service Bank together dominate the merchant acquiring market in Austria. Other acquirers include Hobex and Ingenico Payone. In Austria, most of the banks carry out processing services in-house. SIA, however, is active in the market as a third party processor.
Worldline dominates merchant acquiring in Belgium, with an estimated 121,000 merchant accounts in 2019 (out of an estimated 153,714 merchant accounts). More acquirers have entered the market in recent years. Processing services are dominated by Worldline. Worldline operates issuing and acquiring services for its customers, as well as providing other services.
The merchant acquiring market for credit cards in Denmark is dominated by Nets, which holds an approximately 68% share of all credit card acquired transactions. In addition to the merchant acquiring market, Nets also dominates processing in Denmark, enjoying an estimated 88% share of the total number of credit card transactions.
In Finland, Nets enjoys an effective monopoly, acquiring almost all international credit and debit card transactions – American Express being an exception. Virtually all issuing processing is carried out either in-house or via Nets, with the latter carrying out processing for most Visa payment cards and Eurocard business.
In contrast to many European markets, where the traditional domestic acquirers are being squeezed out by specialist acquirers, acquiring in France is carried out by the issuing banks. Processing in France is generally carried out in-house or shared between banks through purpose-built entities. All major processors combine issuing and acquiring processing.
Germany's acquiring market has been going through transformational mergers and acquisitions ... with non-banks doing much of the running. Fiserv (formerly First Data), TSYS and Worldline dominate the German processing landscape.
Greece lags behind other EU countries in non-cash transactions; however, card payments are slowly increasing in the country due to the number of initiatives taken by the government. In terms of card issuing and acquiring processing, there are opportunities for third-party processors in Greece, particularly on the acquiring side.
Ireland's acquiring market has come to be heavily influenced by some of the largest global players, though the two leading banks maintain an interest through joint ventures. Acquiring processing is done in-house by leading acquirers and, as a result, the market is dominated by AIB Merchant Services and Worldpay.
The Italian acquiring market is mainly concentrated in the hands of Nexi, Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit. This trio collectively accounts for over 80% of acquired billed volume on credit cards. The processing market in Italy is highly consolidated, with SIA and Nexi dominant.
The combination of Worldline and PaySquare created a clear market leader in credit card acquiring. EquensWorldline and First Data are the two main acquiring processors in the Dutch market.
Nets is the key player in the country's acquiring ecosystem. It is the leading acquirer of international cards, processes all BankAxept transactions and is a leading terminal provider. Norway's issuers tend to outsource credit card processing, either partly or wholly.
With over 372,000 EMV-compliant POS terminals in 2019, Portugal has a well-developed acceptance network for payment cards. SIBS (the country's interbank services company) dominates the acquiring processing market.
With approximately 1.82 million POS terminals at the end of 2018, Spain has one of the largest acquiring networks in Europe. The leading acquirer is Comercia Global Payments, which is a joint venture between CaixaBank and Global Payments.
Swedbank Babs is the largest acquirer in the Swedish market, acquiring around 60% of card transactions. NETS, Handelsbanken and Bambora are its main competitors. The acquiring processing market in Sweden is highly concentrated.
Merchant acquiring in Switzerland is dominated by SIX Payment Services and Ingenico Payone. Acquiring processing in Switzerland is carried out in-house by SIX Payment Services, but is mainly outsourced by the smaller acquirers.
Britain's acquiring market is concentrated, with some 61% of credit card acquired billed volume in the hands of Barclaycard and Worldpay. Independent service operators have made significant inroads into the British acquiring processing market.
Verisk Financial Research delivers comparative market and competitor intelligence on merchant acquiring and processing, retail banking, consumer credit, payments cards and e-commerce markets. Country Reports provide invaluable market and competitor intelligence on card payments markets in 72 countries.
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