Payment services company Voca and cash machine network operator Link have announced plans to merge.
The new company, VocaLINK will provide both cash machine and automated payment services and is expected to be one of the biggest payment processors in Europe, putting through more than 8bn transactions a year.
Voca already processes 90% of the UK’s salaries, 70% of household bills and most state benefits and pension payments. More than 100,000 businesses connect to the Voca network and in 2005 transferred to its new IP-based payments system, Bacstel-IP.
The two companies are already working together on the infrastructure for the UK’s Faster Payments initiative, which is expected to deliver real-time payments to the UK market by the end of the year.
The firms hope that merger will produce a payment processor that is better placed to compete in Europe when the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is established in 2008, creating an enlarged, liberalised payments landscape.
The two firms believe they also have complementary experience in the mobile banking, international money transfer and online billing fields that can be brought together to offer new services.
The merged company would provide SEPA-ready and real-time payment services designed to accelerate domestic and cross-border payments, the two firms said.
Voca chief executive Marion King, who will head the merged company, said: ’“Voca and Link coming together is an exciting prospect. We’re already working together successfully to build the UK’s Faster Payments system and the operational and intellectual synergies are clear.
“The move will create the broad product portfolio needed to compete in a wider European market in light of the introduction of SEPA.”