A French whistleblower and Spanish anti-corruption activists are designing a digital payment system to exclude middlemen companies that make money from online purchases.

Herve Falciani and the Xnet group say the system would work like PayPal on a local basis within European cities for citizen payments to participating businesses and governments.

Falciani and Xnet said Thursday it will be nonprofit, with a pilot program in Italy starting in March.

They say excluding online payment companies would mean savings for local consumers and businesses.

A Swiss court last November convicted Falciani in absentia for economic espionage for leaking documents he acquired while working for HSBC from 2006-08.

Xnet revealed documents alleging former IMF chief Rodrigo Rato abused a company credit card while working as chief executive of Spain's Bankia bank.