A group of major European banks are reportedly holding talks to launch a new debit card challenging MasterCard and Visa Europe's market dominance.
According to a consultant's document acquired by the Reuters news agency the banks are "believed to be unhappy" with the prospect of MasterCard's Maestro card cementing its market lead.
The firms said to be involved in the project are Deutsche Bank, France's Societe Generale, Frankfurt-based Commerzbank, Milan's Unicredito and Dutch banks ABN Amro and Rabobank.
But part of the document says that "discussions have only occurred at board level within the banks, and that no technical issues have been discussed".
The move comes as the EU introduces new rules to create a single euro payments area, allowing consumers to use a single bank account to make or receive payments from any currency used in the bloc.
With the regulations due to come into force by 2010, the major European banks are reportedly worried that US-owned Maestro will be best-positioned to provide an EU-wide debit card service – concerns shared by the European Commission.