Debit cards to go international
The European Commission is considering proposals that will allow EU citizens to use their debit cards throughout all 25 members states.
11:36 09 December 2004
The European Commission is considering proposals that will allow EU citizens to use their debit cards throughout all 25 members states, the new EU internal markets chief Charlie McCreevy has revealed.
While credit cards can be used anywhere within the EU and around 300 million people share a common currency, both legal and technical barriers exist that prevent pan European use of debit cards.
Addressing a European savings banks conference, Mr McCreevy said: "We have provided most European citizens with a common currency.
"But the same citizens cannot use their payment card in another member state or use direct debit services on a cross-border basis."
He added: "In order to achieve this, I plan to come forward by the middle of 2005 with a proposal for a directive which will aim at improving the rights of the users of payment systems."
Such a move would also boost efficiency and increase competition among payment services providers, while also improve payment security and protection against fraud, Mr McCreevy said.
There are currently 24.1 million UK Switch/Maestro debit cardholders who can use their debit card in 900,000 ATMs and with 6.5 million retailers worldwide, in the same way as they do at home.
However, there are bars to use of these cards in some countries.
Switch/Maestro predicts that over the next three years the number of ATM transactions will double, while there will be a sixfold increase in the number of point of sale transactions using debit cards.
Use of debit cards abroad by Britons age abroad has also showed a healthy increase in the first six months of the year, with transactions at point of sale up 49 per cent on the previous year.
A million more Maestro ATM transactions were made during the first six months of 2004, bringing the half-yearly total to 10.6 million.
"The move from Switch to Maestro means that cardholders can use the same debit brand at home and abroad so over the summer, we expect to see a further increase in usage - especially with the appearance of the first Maestro-only cards," explained Roger Alexander, chief executive of S2 Card Services, the UK management company for Switch/Maestro.