Rumors continue to swirl in regard to a deal for MasterCard to acquire the Vocalink, the UK operator of the Faster Payments service for approximately
£1 billion (US$1.13 billion).
The British press, including Sky News, says 13 banks which are shareholders in Vocalink have approved a period of exclusivity within which Mastercard can negotiate a takeover of the company.
Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland own about 80% of Vocalink.
Vocalink processed 11 billion transactions last year, equating to more than half of all payments made in the UK.
The US-based card issuer has a market share of just 5% of the UK’s debit card payments, and Sky News says it is understood a takeover of Vocalink would enable it to compete more effectively with Visa.
MasterCard has 5% of the UK’s debit card payments.
More than 90% of all salary payments, and virtually all state benefits are processed using the company, which delivers the Faster Payments Service and the Bacs service which collectively underpin billions of payments.
Sky News notes any deal involving Vocalink is likely to attract political and regulatory scrutiny given the degree of sensitivity surrounding the payments sector.
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