French mobile operators Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom have teamed with eight major retail chains in the country to form a working group dedicated to contactless m-payments systems at the point of sale.
The Ergosum project will work towards a contactless payment system using international near field communication (NFC) standards and implementation specifications found in SIM cards.
The group says it wants contactless payments systems that work with all handsets, operators and retail chains. They should also apply to various services such as bank and loyalty cards and discount coupons, as well as be compatible with existing electronic money systems.
The technology must also be coherent with the Payez Mobile system, developed by Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom with seven of the country's major banks.
The Payez Mobile pilot - overseen by the French "Secure Electronic Transactions" (TES) cluster in Lower Normanday - was launched in November 2007 to test customer satisfaction and interoperability among systems provided by different suppliers.
Following the trial's success, the banks and operators formed a not-for-profit association to promote the deployment of an interoperable mobile payment service in France.
Ergosum says its initial results are expected to be published in the first half of 2009 and will serve as the basis for pilots and deployments planned in 2009-2010.
The group - being run under the aegis of the private-public industry and commerce research centre Picom of the University of Lille - will also contribute to the work undertaken by the French government's Contactless Mobile Services Forum, sponsored by Luc Chatel, French secretary of state in charge of industry and consumer affairs.