French operators support NFC deployment, nationwide coverage planned

Following several years of tests and trials, Bouygues Télécom, SFR and Orange have agreed to co-operate on the commercial launch of NFC services later this year in the French city of Nice.

The service, which will support transportation, retail payments, banking and other applications, will be initially promoted by the operators to attract several thousand customers. However, the deployment, which is being positioned as the proving ground for NFC payment systems as part of the 2012 Digital France plan, will be marketed to around 500,000 residents in Nice.

The service will be branded as Cityzi with the aim of indicating to customers where they can use mobile contactless technology. An ‘ici cityzi' logo will be displayed in shop windows, entrance doors or close to NFC mobile payment devices, where users can pay using their handset or use loyalty cards to retrieve information by placing their mobiles in front of the NFC reader.

The French Association for Mobile Contactless believes that the system being deployed in Nice could be rolled out later in the rest of France. More ambitiously, the Association considers that it could be the basis of a European-wide service that would revolutionise the payment services industry.

While Japanese operators are the leading players in the mobile payments arena, France has been the leading promoter of NFC-based payment services in Europe, with trials being conducted in Paris, Strasbourg, Caen, Rennes, Grenoble, Bordeaux and Marseilles over recent years.

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