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German debit scheme operator progresses euro payment alliance

ZKA, the operator of Germany's domestic debit card system, plans to interlink national debit card systems, in a bid to aid cross-border transactions.

Zentraler Kreditausschuss (ZKA) the operator of Germany’s card system, known as ec or electronic cash, has announced agreements with several banks and payment-service providers across Europe to allow consumers to use their cards in other euro-zone countries, according to reports by trade journal Cardline.

Cardline reported that ZKA intends to set up bilateral processing links with Eufiserv, a Belgium-based processor, which manages its own A(TM) network across Europe, and Sociedade Interbancaria de Servicos (SIBS), the operator of Portugal’s domestic debit system and A(TM) network.

The group also confirmed plans to create links with processors in the Netherlands, Italy and Spain, meeting the SEPA requirements and linking domestic debit operators across Europe without replacing them with an international payment brand.

This news follows the recent move in Belgium, where the banking industry scrapped its national debit system in favor of the Maestro international network from MasterCard, as noted by

The scheme will allow direct pan-European acceptance of debit cards without the need for an intermediary, breaking away from international card networks.

The move will bring the debit card system closer to achieving the European Commission’s directive that all debit cards issued in the euro zone be usable anywhere else in the euro area by 2008.