Mobile payments: 'Non,' say French consumers

Worrying news from France: Consumers there aren't interested in using their handsets to make mobile transactions.

This is the finding of new research conducted by the German ATM and terminal company Wincor Nixdorf, that found a majority of French inhabitants were not inclined to take advantage of the ambitious plans by the transport authorities and mobile operators to deploy mobile payment services.

This data could knock the confidence of those involved in expanding the Cityzi mobile payment service that has been trialled extensively in the French city of Nice prior to being deployed in eight other cities across France.

Orange had also declared plans to sell 500,000 handsets this year equipped to use the Cityzi service.

The NFC-based service has been closely watched by many other European governments, transport providers, operators and financial services firms to better understand how the business model for mobile payments would benefit those involved, including the consumer.

While the complexities of the business model would seem to have been worked through, the fickleness--or conservatism--of the French consumer appears to have been underestimated. Of the 1,025 consumers surveyed, only 8 per cent were strongly in favour of the idea of using mobile payments. But nearly 60 per cent were either strongly or quite opposed to the concept of using their handsets to conduct transactions.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, nearly 80 per cent gave security as their reason not to use something like the Cityzi service.

While contactless cards are becoming commonplace for ticketing within European transport networks, the notion of replacing these with the mobile phone would seem to have triggered an outburst of technophobia. Yet again it appears that the industry has failed to educate consumers to the potential benefits of handset-based services other than basic voice and text messaging.

A considerable marketing campaign would appear to be required to convince consumers that their daily lives could be made easier if they were to use their handset to make low-cost purchases. --Paul