Payments, profits, competition

[Dave Birch] It’s a bit of a paradox. Lots of people want to get into payments. It seems as if a new scheme (especially around mobile) is announced every week. This is presumably because they think they will make money — as, in fact, Paypal have done with net income of $281 million last quarter — and can grow a business. Yet people who are in payments (eg, banks) don’t find it such a great business. Here are some rough figures for the spreadsheet: in Europe, payments account for a about a quarter of bank revenues and about a third of bank costs, contributing less than a tenth of bank income (in the US, payments account for a slightly bigger proportion of both revenues and costs and the contribution to income is slightly higher). The scale of the business is so huge, though, that this small net income is still in the region of 10 billion euros for EU-25 banks.

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