Europay International, MasterCard's European affiliate, has announced a comprehensive payment-system plan with several of the largest banks in Poland.

Europay will serve as strategic adviser to ElBank - a joint venture of the State Savings Bank, Bank Polska Kasa Opieki, and Powszechny Bank Kredytowy - which will develop a telecommunications switch for automated teller machines and point of sale terminals.

The switch, a key element in the development of a payments infrastructure for Poland, is scheduled to go live at the end of 1995, linking an initial 150 ATMs.

Each of the ElBank members announced plans to offer Europay/MasterCard credit or debit products, and Bank Handlowy, Poland's largest corporate bank, said it will begin issuing international Eurocard/MasterCard charge cards by the end of April.

"The Polish banking community recognizes that although we are competitors, there are many areas where it makes sense to work together," said Janusz Dedo, a member of the management board at Powszechny Bank.

Mr. Dedo also is chairman of Europay Forum Polska, the card association's national coordinating body, which starts with seven bank members and will be represented on Europay's eastern regional board.

Europay also will be providing a nine-month training program through its Europay Academy to bring the banking community up to speed in payment system operations.

Lech Figarski, Europay's business manager for Poland and coordinator of the multibank initiatives, said they underscore Europay's "partnership" approach to its membership.

He also took a critical shot at a restructuring by Visa International, which has broken its European organization into two parts: Visa EU, covering the European Union and other industrialized countries; and Visa CEMEA, which comprises Central Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Europay is dedicated to its banks' "staying in control of their business, maximizing their profitability, protecting their investment.

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