France set for commercial NFC services to begin in spring 2012

Technical specifications have been finalised, the French government is providing €20m to promote the adoption of NFC services and four mobile network operators and four banks have announced they will deploy NFC services nationally in the spring of 2012.

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FRANCE: Government has been a strong financial supporter of NFC for several years

France is set for a nationwide commercial rollout of NFC services to begin in the spring of 2012, the Association Européenne Payez Mobile (AEPM) has revealed.

NFC functional and technical specifications have now been adopted that will allow manufacturers to make interoperable, certified banking applications available before 2012, the association explains. This will pave the way for mass-market deployments from the beginning of next year.

Four banks and four mobile network operators are committed to begin rolling out commercial NFC services on a national scale from early next year. They are mobile network operators Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and NRJ Mobile together with BNP Paribas, Credit Mutuel, CIC and Credit Agricole.

“This launch is the continuation of the pilots conducted in in Caen and Strasbourg, which confirmed the validity of the basic concepts and customer interest in mobile payments, as well as the pre-launch test in Nice in 2010,” says the AEPM. “This achievement is the result of several years of close collaboration between mobile network operators and banks supported by several French organisations (Groupement des Cartes Bancaires, Banque de France and AFSCM), international payment schemes as well as standardisation bodies (The GSMA, European Payments Council, ETSI and EMVCo).

“This will ensure that national deployment will be based upon specifications and international standards,” the association continues. This, it explains, will guarantee customers:

  • Interoperability, with consumers being able to make payments with their NFC phones at any merchant equipped with a contactless POS terminal.
  • Sufficient security to ensure reliable and safe mobile contactless transactions.

The French government, which has been a strong financial supporter of NFC for several years, has also made available a €20m fund to support twenty to thirty NFC projects in the fields of mobile ticketing, utilities and public information. The funding is available to French cities and should involve innovative ways of using NFC to improve citizens’ daily lives.

The funding announcement follows research conducted by the government-backed Forum Services Mobiles Sans Contact which found that interest in NFC services amongst French consumers rose in line with the variety of services on offer. “There is a strong correlation between the number of services on offer and the level of interest,” the researchers found. “A multi-service offering will be a key element in the success of this new technology.”

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