Having previously made grand announcements of intent, French mobile operators have now committed to something more tangible regarding the deployment of m-payment services.
According to an official statement from the AFSCM (Association Française pour le Sans Contact Mobile), Orange, Bouygues Télécom, SFR and NRJ Mobile have formally agreed to make available one million NFC-enabled handsets during 2011.
Using the Cityzi brand, the four operators will jointly promote m-payment services that will include mobile ticketing, the storage or promotional coupons, the use of local information services such as smart posters and m-payments using the subscribers' existing bank card details.
Three French banks--Crédit Mutuel, Société Générale and BNP Paribas--are already involved with the existing Cityzi commercial pilot service that has been underway in the city of Nice since May 2010. To help launch the service across France, the government has agreed to provide funding to help deploy the Cityzi service in eight other French cities: Paris, Bordeaux, Caen, Lille, Marseille, Rennes, Strasbourg and Toulouse.
Separately, operators in Belgium have agreed to join with the country's financial services industry with the aim of rolling out m-payments by the end of this year.
According to a joint statement from Belgacom, Mobistar (part of the Orange group) and KPN's Base, the technology involved will include the handset's SIM card combined with NFC. The goal is to make a mobile phone electronic wallet that consumers can easily use to make payments for small amounts of up to €25.
The launch date is still uncertain, but expected some time in 2011. However, the companies involved are apparently still sorting through how best to develop and optimise the product before making it publicly available.
Mobile payments: 'Non,' say French consumers
London first for mass-market NFC mobile payments, says Telefonica
Orange partners with Barclaycard for mobile payments launch
Can Google's NFC initiative trigger uptake of m-payments?