After years of pilot trials and road tests, French bank Société Générale is set to launch its first national commercial application of NFC-based mobile payments.
The NFC ecosystem is progressively maturing in France with several commercial deployments either planned or in progress in large cities.
Strasbourg and Caen were the test bed for the first wave of pilot trials back in 2007 under the banner of the Association Française pour le Sans Contact Mobile (AFSCM) - a telco-backed initiative which soon brought on board banks and handset manufacturers. In 2010 the AFSCM switched its focus to Nice, which was declared the country's first contactless mobile city in a pre-commercial pilot of the consortium's Cityzi technology.
More than 36 mobile phone models - including best-sellers such as the Samsung Galaxy S3 - are compatible with Cityzi NFC and more than 3.5 million people now have one of the handsets.
Having contracted with Oberthur Technologies to act as its Trusted Service Manager in February, SocGen is set to begin live processing of NFC based mobile payments nationwide following an initial successful deployment in Strasbourg.
In June, Compagnie des Transports Strasbourgeois (CTS) launched 'U'GO', an NFC-based application for the purchase and validation of transport tickets on mobile phones in concert with mobile operators Orange, Bouygues Telecom, SFR and NRJ Mobile, and banks, including Crédit Mutuel, Crédit Agricole, BNP Paribas and Société Générale.