France Continues To Be A Hub For Payments Innovation
Shoppers at the V2 mall in Villeneuve d’Ascq, France, will be able to make purchases simply by taping their finger on a biometric POS terminal. Customers will be equipped with a card with a special cover that communicates with the terminal wirelessly, to confirm that the customer’s fingerprints are the same registered under that card and bank account. While the card is necessary, it can remain in the shopper’s pocket and is simply there to confirm their identity. This ensures that none of the customer’s date is stocked anywhere but in their card.
Also this week, Moneo, a French provider of electronic wallets, has announced that it will be launching a card where customers will be able to stock restaurant coupons. Restaurant coupons – “tickets restaurants” – are very common in France and are used by employers to pay for their employees' meals. Typically these are in paper form and can be used at most restaurants. Moneo wants to get rid of the paper and enter the market, which amounts to six billion euros in transaction volume per year. While heavily criticized by its competitors for its legality the card has been approved by the government and will be rolled out in 2013.
These two launches are added to the list of payment innovation initiatives taking place in France in recent years. In the last couple of years the government has sponsored Citizy (a grouping of banks and mobile network providers) to launch city-wide NFC trials that saw cities like Nice, Strasbourg and Caen being equipped with NFC-enabled terminals in shops as well as public services. These trials also provided the populations with contactless cards and NFC-enabled phones. These initiatives paved the way for alternative payments in the country motivating many more experiments such as Casino’s virtual supermarkets or PayPal's McDonald's trial.