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Mentioned Companies:

Crédit Agricole and Worldline Merchant JV

The merchant acquiring market in France has been altered by the formation of a new joint venture (JV) between processor Worldline and Crédit Agricole (CA), the country’s largest bank measured by bank branches.

CAWL is the name of the JV, which is 50% plus 1 share owned by Worldline and 50% minus 1 share owned by the bank. Worldline holds five of the nine seats on the CAWL Board of Directors. Separately, Crédit Agricole owns 7% of the equity in Worldline, which is headquartered in Paris.

France is the largest payment card market in the European Economic Area with purchase volume exceeding $770 billion annually. However, card acceptance and merchant acquiring in France is poised for disruption.

The country’s largest bank acquirers, including BNP Paribas, BPCE, Crédit Agricole and Société Générale, handle global brand card payments (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, JCB, UnionPay, Diners Club) as well as domestic-only Cartes Bancaires (CB) card transactions using in-house processing systems. Worldline provides those banks with POS terminal management and related support including for 3-D Secure.

CB cards account for about 85% of all card payments in France. The largest merchants in France tend to use two or three acquirers from among the top banks.

International acquirers that compete for business among ecommerce and small businesses in France, including Adyen, bundle ecommerce and in-store payments for their merchants. Predominantly, they acquire global brand card transactions.

CAWL aims to change the status quo. It has applied to the Bank of France for a payment institution license, which it expects to receive by the end of this year. CAWL will offer to all merchant segments a bundled acceptance and acquiring service for in-store and online transactions that includes global brand and CB cards.

Prior to the formation of CAWL, Worldline was not providing CB acquiring services for merchants in France. It will use Crédit Agricole’s license to handle Cartes Bancaires transactions.

Currently, Crédit Agricole is the largest acquirer in France, a position gained by leveraging its 8,000 branches nationwide. The bank holds about 30% of the merchant acquiring market.

Crédit Agricole sees CAWL as an opportunity to gain market share, including from international acquirers. It also believes it can increase revenues by offering value-added services and omnichannel processing, all on a single platform.

CAWL will also offer card acceptance services to small and midsized merchants in France in verticals such as restaurants, hospitality and healthcare, and provide international acquiring services to Crédit Agricole customers outside of France.

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May 2024
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