The 45 largest Merchant Acquirers of card transactions from merchants in Europe processed 67.54 billion payments in 2017. Those transactions, which originated at 10.3 million active merchants, were valued at $2.814 trillion.
Europe’s biggest Merchant Acquirers by volume
Most European banks consider both merchant acquiring and card issuing as core bank businesses. Many banks issuing cards also have their own merchant acquirer licences granted by the card schemes. They run their own merchant acquirer operations in-house or use the services of third party acquirer processor. More than 375 card acquirers are active in Europe. They compete in their home markets and cross-borders on European level.
The majority of acquirers are banks and therefore have a bank licence. In addition, non-bank acquirers licensed as payment institutions (PIs) and some of them with added e-money license, all with European passport licence according to the PSD/PSD2 or EMD, respectively, have become new players in the merchant acquirer business.
Many acquirers and EMIs are still subsidiaries of bank groups, but more and more non-bank players (e.g. processors, new internet players, prepaid product service providers, and FinTechs) have started their own acquirer operations. In cases where their payment acceptance services are based on cards, they have applied for acquirer licences from the respective card schemes.
With the implementation of the PSD2, two new types of new third-party payment service providers (TPPs) continue to service merchants. There payment services compete with card acquirers:
- Payment Initiation Service Providers (PISPs). With explicit customer permission, PISPs may initiate a purchase payment transaction directly from the customer’s bank account and credit the merchant accordingly.
- Account Information Service Providers (AISPs). Thanks to the access to account mandate of the PSD2 (X2A) and with explicit customer permission, AISPs consolidate the customer’s account and transaction details from multiple accounts at multiple banks in one portal. They may offer business services for merchants.
In most European countries, POS terminal rental and maintenance services are part of the acquirer service portfolio offered, often operated through local POS terminal service partners of the individual acquirer. Only large retailers and petrol companies buy POS terminals and may have own their POS terminal network hub infrastructures.
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