With more than than 2.5 million Cityzi NFC-enabled handsets now in circulation, France is ready for wide-scale mobile contactless services in 2013, claims an industry association.
In 2008 three French telcos joined forces to develop NFC standards and promote the technology. The Association Française pour le Sans Contact Mobile (AFSCM) quickly grew, bringing on board banks, retailers and technology specialists.
In 2010 the partners' Cityzi initiative saw Nice declared a mobile contactless city, enabling residents to use their NFC-enabled phones to pay at restaurants, supermarkets and local stores, as well as in the city's transport networks.
Nice has been followed by other big cities, such as Strasbourg and Caen, while in mainland France, some 55,000 retailers have terminals that accept mobile phone payments.
Manufacturers are also now coming on board, with Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC, Blackberry, Motorola and Nokia all treating SIM-based NFC technology as a priority, and automatically integrating it into their new products, says the AFSCM.
More than 26 mobile phone models - including best-sellers such as the Samsung Galaxy S3 - are compatible with Cityzi NFC, compared with 14 last year and more than 2.5 million people now have one of the handsets.
Thibault de Dreuille, MD, AFSCM, says: "The work being done by mobile phone operators in France has established the right conditions for NFC success nationally. That puts us in an excellent position for the optimal launch of Cityzi NFC mobile phone services, such as payment and transport, in 2013."