French operators together have sold something over 3,000 of the Samsung S5230, Player One, since the launch of the project about a year ago. About 20% of subscribers buying the phone, which has been a popular non-NFC model in France, activated one or more of the NFC features in the first year.
Project organizers say they are not disappointed with that rate, given that until November 2010, the only major application available was transit ticketing. Veolia Transport, which runs the bus and tram network in Nice, said the transit operator was happy with the 20% take-up by riders carrying NFC phones. Only 40% of the population regularly uses mass transit in Nice, so the pool of potential NFC phone users is smaller than in many European cities. And only one NFC model has been available in shops in the city, the Samsung S5230.
The first bank, Crédit Mutuel-CIC, added an NFC payment service only around November. Two more banks, including BNP Paribas, launched their services early in 2011, enabling customers to tap their phones to pay at about 1,300 merchant locations that accept MasterCard PayPass or Visa payWave applications in Nice. Payment transaction volumes with the phones are still low, however.
More Nice-style launches are planned in France, including Strasbourg and probably Caen, in the latter half of 2011.