Europe

French Government Hopes To Speed Up NFC Use

Despite the fact that smartphones and bank cards are NFC-based and that new NFC driven apps are increasingly available, the technology remains rather marginal in France. The infrastructure is there without the interest, reports ZDNet in France. One hurdle is the fact that stores are ill-equipped, and another is that consumers are still a bit skeptical.

According to recent statistics from the French Association of Contactless Mobile, the number of contactless payment cards have increased by 60 percent between 2013 and 2014 with more than 33 million circulating in France. However, only 18 percent of consumers who own a contactless payment card actually use it.

Another study, conducted by Deloitte in October 2014, confirmed that French mobile users are taking a rather conservative approach to m-commerce. Of those surveyed, 19 percent had made a purchase via their mobile, 11 percent had transferred funds, and only 3 percent had used it to pay in-store. All in all, 55 percent had never used a mobile phone as a payment device. And only 35 percent were actually interested in testing their mobile phone as a payment device. From a retail perspective, only 20 to 21 percent of stores in France have the technological support to back mobile payments.

In this context, the French government wants to make sure that by 2020, 100 percent of stores in France will have the equipment to enable consumers to pay with contactless payment methods. This makes sense, as a recent study suggests that while the contactless cards have struggled to take hold as a popular payment method, the technology is likely to bridge consumers to use mobile payments more frequently across Europe.

So by Jan. 1, 2016, all new terminals will enable contactless payments. The U.K., which is way ahead of the game compared to France, started experimenting with contactless payments in 2007. And it worked. The total worth of contactless transactions in the U.K. tripled from £653 million in 2013 to £2.32 billion in 2014. The government has also asked in parallel that banks do their jobs in terms of educating their clients on how to use the new payment technology because it is in everyone’s interests.

Will this strategy also work for France? Experts from U.K.-based data tank RBR see contactless cards as a stepping stone toward a mobile payments boom in certain nations, but in others – like Germany and Belgium – consumers are likely to bypass the contactless card altogether in favor of paying with their smartphones. Let’s see which route the French will take.

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