The EU Commission and the European Central Bank want to support competitive digital payment solutions developed in Europe with a pan-European reach. So far, the providers of digital payment solutions with global significance are, on the one hand, American corporations, such as Mastercard, Visa, Google, Apple, or Amazon, and, on the other hand, large Chinese companies, such as Alipay. In addition, the Chinese central bank is working on a digital version of its currency. The European institutions want to counter this with independent solutions. This seems important to them in order to strengthen Europe's economic and financial sovereignty in the long term.
EPI: Uniform solution for all payment applications
One motivation for the EPI is to set up something for payment traffic similar to what was achieved with Airbus for the aviation industry: a solution based on the cooperation of important European banks and payment providers.
EPI's goal is to create a unified payment solution managed and operated within Europe that also integrates local solutions such as girocard or Cartes Bancaires into an overall system for better scalability. The building blocks are to include a payment card and a digital wallet. All types of transactions in stores, e-commerce, cash withdrawals and payments between individuals (P2P) should be enabled. Clearing and settlement are to be based on instant payments (SEPA Credit Transfer Inst, SCT Inst).
For both merchants and consumers, the new payment solution should be simple, universally usable and cost-effective. Additional services are also conceivable that go beyond the pure payment function.
Digital euro: complement to cash
All initiatives for the development of digital central bank money go under the heading "Central Bank Digital Currency" (CBDC).
In principle, the digital euro is intended to function in the same way as cash: Accessible to all consumers and businesses. Another parallel to cash: It is planned to be issued by the European Central Bank together with the national central banks and its value is to be guaranteed. One goal is to use it to support the digitalization of the European economy.