We are the association of
Credit Card Issuers Europe

We strive for optimal credit card payment instruments in Europe

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Accie position papers

Our vision on the future financial ecosystem

Bought something by credit card?

Are you now wondering how the payment was made?

The European Commission is currently considering to review the Interchange Fee Regulation (IFR).

Watch the new ACCIE video to find out about the interchange fee, and its role in the credit card payments? ACCIE wants to protect the access to credit card to all European citizens and businesses, whilst maintaining the same level of services. To achieve this, the IFR must fairly set interchange fee levels to ensure the costs for issuing cards are covered.

Who we are

ACCIE is the Association of Credit Card Issuers in Europe.

ACCIE represents the specialized European credit card issuing industry in its dealings with EU, National institutions and other stakeholders. The objectives of ACCIE are to ensure that the interests of its members are represented and defended. To that end ACCIE will ensure that its members are fairly and appropriately represented in relevant EU regulatory discussions and related EU decision making processes.

The mission of ACCIE is to ensure that its cardholders across Europe gain optimal benefit from the credit card payment instruments offered by its members.

The Association of Credit Card Issuers in Europe (ACCIE) is an international non-profit association. The registered office of ACCIE is located at Rond-Point Robert Schuman 9, (1040) Brussels, Belgium.

The members of ACCIE provide services to approximately twenty-one million cardholders in the EU Member States.

Europe

Members

Advanzia

Advanzia Bank S.A.

Simplicity, Transparency and Trust – These core values form the principles according to which we operate.
Advanzia offers currently two products: The no-fee MasterCard Gold credit card, and a high-interest deposit account. The credit cards are offered to individuals in Germany, France, Austria, Spain and Luxembourg, whereas the deposit product is available to individuals in further European countries.
We offer our customers clear-cut solutions for their payment transactions and in doing so are committed to providing the maximum level of transparency at all times. It is in this way that we earn trust, an indispensable foundation block for a successful business relationship.
The sale of products via the internet has enabled us to develop a cost-efficient operational approach. Our customers reap the benefits of this as we offer significantly more attractive products than our competitors. Another advantage of our business model is that it provides a high degree of flexibility.
As a bank based in the heart of Europe, we are in a position to guarantee our customers a means of payment that is both simple and affordable, as well as offering the same benefits abroad as at home. In this respect, we share the vision of the European Union's Competition Directorate-General, i.e. to reduce the costs incurred by the consumer within the European payment area.
By consciously specialising in two products, the no-fee MasterCard Gold credit card and the high-interest Advanzia Deposit Account, we believe we are doing our share towards realising this vision.

AirPlus

AirPlus

Lufthansa AirPlus Servicekarten GmbH, headquartered in Germany, is a leading global provider of business travel management solutions (including payment solutions). AirPlus is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lufthansa.

AirPlus is a registered payment institution in Germany pursuant to the revised European Payment Services Directive and is supervised by the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority and Deutsche Bundesbank.   

AirPlus offers business travel management solutions - either through a branch or a local subsidiary - in over seventy countries. AirPlus exclusively provides its services to corporate customers, operating a B2B model. The AirPlus customer portfolio consists of global companies seeking to optimise their business travel management by reducing costs and streamlining internal accounting processes.

MBNA

card complete Group

The card complete-group comprises of the card complete Service Bank AG and the DC Bank AG and is with about 1.5 million card holders and a widespread network of acceptance points the number 1 on the Austrian credit card market. By the positioning as full-service provider card complete currently unites all elements of cashless payments under one roof.

Cornèrcard

Cornèrcard ltd.

Cornèr Bank, founded in Lugano in 1952, is a private and independent Swiss banking institution. In 1975, it became the first bank in Switzerland to launch the Visa credit card and helped significantly shape the Swiss credit card landscape thanks to continuing innovation efforts. Since 1998, Cornèr Bank/Cornèrcard has included the Mastercard card in its portfolio in addition to the Visa card. With the acquisition of the Diners Club license for Switzerland in the year 2014, Cornèrcard continues to expand its presence in the payment card market. Cornèrcard offers a wide range of credit and prepaid cards based on state-of-the-art technologies and is among today's Internet pioneers. Cornèr Bank was one of Europe's first banking institutions to introduce secure e-commerce standards and strives to further develop its e-commerce and mobile commerce services.

ICS

International Card Services BV

International Card Services BV (ICS) was founded in 1988 and is 100% focussed on issuing credit cards. Our strategy is  based on excellent service quality and professional risk control. ICS is a specialist in co-branding  with over twenty-five cooperation programs in conjunction with retailers, banks and various interest groups. We are based in the Netherlands and also have a presence in Germany.

MBNA

MBNA

MBNA Limited, one of the largest credit card issuers in the UK, was voted by customers as Moneyfacts Credit Card Provider of the Year for 2014 and again in 2015 Every year we meet the payment and borrowing needs of millions of UK customers from our base in Chester. In 2006, MBNA became part of Bank of America – one of the largest financial institutions in the world. The MBNA brand is still used as the consumer-facing brand in the UK market. In November 2014, we were proud to have celebrated our 21st year in the UK market.

FAQ

  1. Who are the different players in the credit card chain?

    • Issuers

      • Credit card issuers are financial institutions that financially back the credit cards. They are responsible for approving (or denying) credit card applications from their customers, setting the terms of a credit line and any account benefit. The issuer deals with authorising payments, and settling transactions on behalf of the customer/cardholder, as well as collecting payments from, and providing operational services (e.g. statements, dispute resolution) to their customers/cardholders.

    • Acquirers

      • Credit card acquirers are financial institutions that process debit and credit card payments on behalf of a merchant. Acquirers allow merchants to accept debit and credit card payments from cardholders.

    • Merchants

      • Merchants are businesses providing goods and services for which they accept debit and credit card payments from customers. Merchants are also clients of an acquiring bank or financial institution.

    • Cardholder

      • Cardholders are the customers of the issuer, and the users of the debit/credit cards. The cardholder is also the customer of the merchant, purchasing goods or services with their card.

    • Schemes

      • Credit card schemes are payment networks which own a scheme brand (e.g. Visa, Mastercard) which banks and other financial institutions can be licenced to use in order to issue or acquire cards. Issuers and acquirers are clients of the schemes, and in addition to having a brand licence may use the network to process payment card transactions.

     

  2. What is the difference between credit card issuers and credit card schemes?

    • Credit card issuers must work with a credit card scheme – a payment processing network, which primary role is to manage payment transactions undertaken by its brand. This includes authorisations, clearing and settlement.

    • Card schemes also promote awareness of their brand, and set and enforce strict rules for all clients to maintain the integrity of the payment network.

    • An credit card issuer is a financial institution which funds credit cards, and in doing so holds the related credit risk. Issuers operate in the territory (Europe in this case) under a brand licence from the card scheme and must comply with scheme rules. Issuers are also responsible for settling payments with the merchant (via the scheme and acquirer) when a transaction is made, in accordance with the compliance rules of the countries in which they are operating. Additionally, they invest in the technology and operations required to ensure a convenient and secure user experience throughout the payment process.

     

  3. What are the different credit card models?

    • 4-party model

        • The 4-party payment card model is, despite its name, formed by five players involved in a credit card payment. These players are the issuer, the acquirer, the merchant, the cardholder, and the scheme. They are all separate entities, which are all involved in managing a payment card transaction.

    • 3-party model

        • In the 3-party payment card model the issuer and the acquirer are the same entity as the scheme, and therefore the parties involved in a credit card payment are the cardholder, the merchant and the issuer/acquirer/scheme together.

     

  4. What is the Interchange fee?

    • Interchange fees are one of the income sources for payment card issuers. When a payment card transaction takes place, the interchange fee is paid by the acquiring bank to the issuing bank. In the EU, interchange fees are currently capped at 0.3% of the transaction for consumer credit cards and 0.2% for debit cards, whereas commercial payment cards are not in the scope of the regulation. The issuers use this income to support the many benefits they provide to cardholders. This, in turn, encourages cardholders to use their cards widely which benefits merchants accepting the cards.

     

  5. What is the difference between debit and credit cards?

    • Although debit and credit cards may look similar, there are important underlying differences. Debit cards are used by the cardholder, to access funds they have deposited in their bank account. Credit cards, on the other hand, allow customers to have a line of credit (up to a limit) from the card issuer. The cardholders can pay back the line of credit in full at the end of the month or 'revolve' the borrowing, i.e. pay it back with interest over an extended period. In this case, the issuer carries a liability risk if the funds are not repaid.

    • Credit cards also offer benefits for their users through 'cashback' and other rewards programmes not generally available for debit card users. Some credit cards may also have additional protections such as insurance and purchase protection.


     

  6. What are the advantages of credit card payments compared to cash?

    • Carrying cash can be risky as it can easily be lost or stolen and then very difficult to trace or recover. Furthermore, there is a limited obligation for a merchant to refund a cash transaction if the purchased goods are faulty.

    • Card payments provide security against many types of fraud and enable disputes to be resolved with a merchant if required.

    • Payment cards are often the main payment instrument accepted by online shopping sites, providing quick, secure and convenient payments.

    • With a credit card, a cardholder can make a purchase straightaway and pay for it later. This eases cash-flow and enables cardholders to acquire goods or book services for which they do not have full funds immediately available.

    • There may also be benefits from various loyalty programmes such as 'cashback' and travel rewards, as well as insurance coverage and consumer protection.

    • Credit cards also enable cardholders to easily keep track of their spending. When paying by cash one is responsible for keeping receipts and any records needed. On the other hand, when using a credit card one can track purchases online (via app or browser) and receive a monthly statement with a list of all purchases, including merchant details.

     

  7. How do credit cards provide security and protection for payments?

    • Card payments are more secure compared to cash payments. Due to numerous fraud prevention features, card users are protected against fraud, e.g. by verifying the authenticity of the card and the cardholder as well as checking online to authorise a payment.

    • Furthermore, credit card payments provide protection for purchases, e.g. if a purchased product is damaged or does not arrive, money paid out can be reimbursed. This is possible because there is a robust dispute resolution process in which the issuer initiates and processes a refund for the cardholder. Customers can also seek reimbursement if a service is not rendered (e.g. airline bankruptcy).

     

  8. What importance do credit cards have in economic growth?

    • Credit cards stimulate the economy by increasing consumer and business purchasing power. When consumers use credit cards to purchase goods and services, which they do not currently have funds for, it enables businesses to make sales that they might not have received otherwise. Without this facility, merchants would either have to extend the credit themselves (and take the risk), only accepting sales from customers with the full funds available or making a lower volume and value of sales.

     

  9. What are the risks related to credit cards?

    • Credit cards provide a line of credit which has to be repaid, and will normally charge interest during the borrowing period (after an initial grace period). Card issuers make informed decisions about credit risk and customers' ability to repay, and also assume liability if this is defaulted.

     

  10. Which compulsory costs do issuers bear in order to comply with industry standards and card scheme rules?

    • To maintain their licence to issue cards under a card scheme brand (e.g. Visa or Mastercard), issuers have to comply with all relevant industry standards and scheme rules. An example of card payment industry standards are the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), which apply to any organisation, regardless of size or number of transactions, that accepts, transmits or stores any cardholder data. PCI DSS is designed to protect sensitive customer data when storing and processing payment card information. Other industry standards cover chip specifications and customer authentication, as well as contactless payments and mobile payment solutions.

    • Additionally there are complex technical requirements for all parties to adhere to, set out in scheme rules. These rules are regularly updated, requiring ongoing compliance in order to protect the system integrity and ensure the best user experience.

     

  11. What role is technology playing in the industry today?

    • The rise of FinTech and digital payment platforms have ushered in a new era for the payments sector, which has sparked technological innovation. Previously, there was a wholesale shift migrating to chip-based cards, which replaced magnetic strip cards. More recent developments in the industry include contactless payment methods, which have gained huge popularity globally. These methods enable payment cards to be used as tools in new services, such as ticketless travel. Additionally, other tools have emerged (mobile and in app solutions) based on tokenisation principles. Issuers are making long-term investments to ensure a high degree of security and a simple user experience for their customers.

     

  12. What "competitive advantages" do FinTechs currently have compared to traditional card issuers?

    • FinTech companies generally have low customer acquisition costs and strong data advantages, but are often not subject to the same regulations as traditional financial institutions. This enables them to maintain a lower cost base and potentially better rates than their banking peers. Recently, globally active technology companies, the so-called big tech companies, have been entering the market. These companies have a competitive advantage because they can leverage their existing customer networks and large amounts of proprietary data to provide financial services. However, these Fintech players may only offer limited propositions, such as prepaid solutions, but not credit line facilities. These prepaid solutions may not follow full Anti-Money Laundering and KYC ('Know Your Customer') rules that banks have to comply with, which may increase overall security risks in the market.

     

  13. What is ACCIE's position on payments markets?

    • ACCIE's mission on behalf of European credit card issuers is to ensure that we can best meet the needs of our customers across Europe. ACCIE represents the credit card industry with EU institutions, where it campaigns for clarifying the role of the issuer in the credit card payments chain, economic cycle and GDP growth support. ACCIE also informs decision-makers on the impact of EU initiatives on payment systems. Learn more about the credit card issuers' role in the payments market here.

Contact

Association of Credit Card Issuers in Europe IVZW

Rond-Point Robert Schuman 9

1040 Brussels

Belgium

+32 (0) 2 230 92 22

For more information about ACCIE's position or about membership opportunities, please contact one of our spokespeople:

Disclaimer

This website is being managed by the Association of Credit Card Issuers in Europe (herein after referred to as ACCIE), an international non-profit association. The registered office of ACCIE is located at Rond-Point Robert Schuman 9, (1040) Brussels, Belgium.

ACCIE exercises the utmost care in composing, editing and distributing information as accurate as possible on credit card issuing industry in its dealings with EU and Member State institutions, the credit card payment instruments, on the future financial ecosystem and on all other information on this website.

ACCIE preserves the right to adjust the content of its website at any time appropriate according to ACCIE.

However, in case of any deficiency or apparent misstatement, please inform the spokesperson of ACCIE.

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ACCIE is not liable for any damages resulting from use of any misstatement, errors or interpretation in this information as stated on this website.