Voca and LINK merge and launch pan-European clearing service

London - 2 July 2007

Today marks the completion of the merger of two market leaders, Voca and LINK. The new company, VocaLink, will provide domestic and international transaction services to banks and corporates. At the same time, VocaLink is launching Europe’s first independent pan-European payment service in partnership with 10 banks from across Europe.

The €CSM partnership heralds a new dawn in European payment processing. VocaLink has designed the service to operate on an independent and commercial basis, and the business model creates opportunities for all participants. Member banks may be partners and clients simultaneously and can launch SEPA services from January 2008. Founder members include Bank of America, Citi, Dexia Bank, Fortis, Lloyds TSB, RBS and Santander.

Mike Hampson, Head of Financial Institutions, Transaction Banking at ABN Amro said ‘The launch of this new clearing and settlement mechanism opens a new chapter in international payments. SEPA raises many complex challenges and it makes sense for European banks to solve these together. ABN Amro is therefore delighted to work with VocaLink to help establish this bank network that ensures reach and inter-connectivity throughout the SEPA and beyond.’

VocaLink has created the €CSM to help bank customers benefit from SEPA. The creation of a new liberalised payments landscape creates both opportunities and challenges. Banks must establish sufficient scale and geographic reach to offer a competitive payment service. For many banks, going it alone does not make commercial sense. The VocaLink €CSM immediately establishes a network of significant European banks that ensures reach throughout the SEPA and beyond. All participants benefit from VocaLink’s economies of scale and will be instrumental in defining an emerging range of value-added services.

At the launch of the VocaLink €CSM, Marc Aguilar, General Manager, Payment Services at Fortis said: 'We are delighted to be part of this exciting new venture. VocaLink has the scale to offer pan-European processing services that meet the challenges of SEPA. We at Fortis are looking forward to working with VocaLink to shape the direction of value-added services which will enable us to meet the needs of our customers.’

The launch of the VocaLink €CSM partnership is an industry first and aims to be highly inclusive. It encourages banks of all sizes to participate fully in the SEPA. It allows the members to exercise a range of choices in meeting their client’s needs for the SEPA. Founder members will work together to shape the future of the service, so subsequent joiners will tap into a wealth of expertise and continual service enhancements.

In addition to core transaction processing services, banks will benefit from the development of new transaction services that include Corporate Access services, Direct Debit Mandate management, Payment Exceptions management, AML and OFAC compliance as well as non-SEPA payment processing.

Commenting on the completion of the merger, VocaLink chief executive, Marion King, said: ‘The timing of the merger is highly significant, coming just a few months before the introduction of the SEPA. The scale of our operation and breadth of our service portfolio means that we can help banks of all sizes meet the challenges of the future. The combined expertise of Voca and LINK also creates a superb platform for innovation.’

VocaLink already processes over 90 per cent of UK salaries and 15 per cent of Europe’s automated payments. It powers the world’s busiest ATM network, connecting over 60,000 ATMs and supports over 130 million card accounts. The new company will process more than 8 billion transactions annually, and offer combined services to the international banking community.

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