Orange has launched its Orange Cash NFC mobile payment service in two cities in France, continuing a spate of mobile payment and banking announcements across Europe.
Orange said in November it had teamed up with Visa Europe to launch a prepaid near-field communication (NFC) service for smartphone users across France in 2014. The French operator said the Orange Cash service is now commercially available in Caen and Strasbourg, two of the cities with the highest use of contactless payments in France, and will be rolled out throughout France in 2014.
The service is designed to enable customers to make secure payments to retailers through their NFC-compatible mobile phones using a prepayment solution. Orange said the service is the first of its kind in France and uses contactless Visa technology pre-loaded onto all Orange NFC SIM cards. The Orange Cash application acts as a "mobile purse", taking the form of a Visa prepaid card on a phone.
"The launch of Orange Cash in Caen and Strasbourg embodies Orange's ambition to provide our customers with an innovative service that simplifies the daily lives of our customers and provides a new stimulus for local commerce," said Delphine Ernotte Cunci, deputy CEO and senior executive vice president of Orange France.
Orange has been taking a somewhat piecemeal approach to mobile payments, teaming up with different financial service providers in different markets.
David Sear, the CEO of UK mobile payments joint venture Weve, recently said mobile payments are "a bit of a mess" and warned that unless the mobile payments industry recognises that it has to partner fully with banks and retailers, "we'll be waiting for another 10 years for adoption of mobile payments at scale".
Indeed, the NFC market in Europe is already littered with failed trials and individual services offered by operators in the different markets.
Other recent mobile money announcements by European operators include Vodafone's alliance with global money transfer and payment services firm MoneyGram covering cash transfers to customers using the operator's M-Pesa mobile payment service.
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