SFR, Orange, Bouygues and NRJ Mobile prep nationwide NFC launch

The four major French operators, France Telecom Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and NRJ Mobile, together with BNP Paribas, Credit Mutuel, CIC and Credit Agricole, have agreed to deploy nationwide interoperable NFC-enabled payment services early next year.

According to the Association Européenne Payez Mobile (AEPM), the NFC technical specifications have now been adopted by handset and terminal vendors to make interoperable and certified banking apps available prior to the commercial launch.

"This launch is the continuation of the pilots conducted 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," said an AEPM spokesperson told Near Field Communications.

The plan to deploy NFC m-payment services has been given strong support by the French government which has provided €20 million of funding to support between 20 and 30 NFC projects. These include m-ticketing and public information services, although French cities can request funding that uses NFC to improve their citizens' daily lives.

The decision to provide funding was triggered by government-backed research conducted by the Forum Services Mobiles Sans Contact. The study found that interest in NFC services among French consumers had increased 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 report found. "A multi-service offering will be a key element in the success of this new technology."

A report from Juniper Research found that consumers worldwide will spend $50 billion via NFC by 2014. Separately, a recent report from Berg Insight states that the number of m-money users in emerging markets is forecast to grow from 133 million users in 2010 at a CAGR of 40 per cent to reach 709 million users in 2015.

Commenting on the results, Lars Kurkinen, Berg Insight's telecom analyst, said in a statement: "The number of live m-money services has grown at an explosive rate during the past two years and recently reached as many as 300 commercial deployments."

For more:
- see this Near Field Communications article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Berg Insight release

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