French Banks Expect to Launch Delayed NFC Payment Soon in Nice

Banks could launch retail mobile payment as early as this month or in July as part of France’s precommercial NFC project that officially kicked off in May in the seaside city of Nice, say organizers.

Although it’s unclear exactly when the retail mobile-payment portion of the high-profile project will begin, project organizers say it is imminent–though it likely will not be fully promoted until the fall, after the summer holidays. The payment applications will enable those consumers that have bought the relatively small number of NFC phones available to tap for purchases at roughly a few hundred merchant outlets so far equipped with contactless point-of-sale terminals in and around Nice.

Crédit Mutuel-CIC and BNP Paribas are expected to be the first banks to offer payment, using contactless applications from MasterCard Worldwide and Visa Europe, respectively. The banks are also planning to issue contactless EMV cards. Other banks have indicated they will participate, probably later in the year.

While transit ticketing and a few other lower-profile applications have already launched in Nice, payment was not ready last month for the official launch.

Patrice Hertzog, payment systems manager for Crédit Mutuel, told NFC Times the bank wants to make sure the technology and issuing processes work as planned and are interoperable among vendors before launching its MasterCard PayPass application. Although multiple French banks and vendors participated in NFC “Payez Mobile” trials in the French cities of Caen and Strasbourg starting in 2007, those were pilots, Hertzog noted.

“Now we want to have real conditions,” he told NFC Times. “If we don’t do it (troubleshooting) now, it will be difficult to do it after. The challenge is to provide a commercial product working absolutely without any problems.”

Among the interoperability issues has been making sure Crédit Mutel’s trusted service manager, Gemalto, could set up and manage the bank’s PayPass application on SIM cards produced by other card vendors, such as Oberthur Technologies, he said. The bank also wants to make sure other processes work for getting the payment application activated. The application is expected to be preloaded on SIM cards, though provisioned or personalized and managed over the air.

Customers with NFC phones will activate the payment application in bank branches, according to a statement from Gemalto.

Unlike with BNP Paribas, customers of Crédit Mutuel-CIC will be able to buy the NFC phones in their bank branches, not only in mobile shops. Crédit Mutuel-CIC is majority owner of NRJ Mobile, which is a mobile virtual network operator participating in the Nice project.

Hertzog said Crédit Mutuel has also issued a few thousand contactless EMV cards and plans to add contactless to much of its card portfolio as cards are replaced and new cards are issued. BNP Paribas also plans a contactless card rollout and said last month it would very soon be issuing 5,000 contactless EMV cards to customers in Nice.

BNP Paribas will also make its “KIX” mobile-payment application available. The cards and phone payment service will support the Visa payWave contactless application. For the phone application, customers must enter a “private code” on their handset keypads before completing a purchase. But for purchases below 20 euros (US$24.53), they could choose not to enter the PIN, the bank noted. The procedures are part of NFC mobile-payment specifications the French have adopted.

Such merchants as Intermarché, E.Leclerc, Carrefour and others, such as town-center merchants and the French postal service, La Poste, have been mentioned as likely to accept contactless payments in Nice. Hypermarket and supermarket chain Carrefour has been rolling out its own contactless cards in France, issued by its banking arm.

Four mobile operators, Orange-France, SFR, Bouygues Telecom, as well as NRJ Mobile, are putting something under 4,000 NFC phones on sale to subscribers in Nice initially. The phones will be the NFC version of the popular, though sub-3G, touch-screen phone, the Samsung (S5230) Player One.

HEADLINE NEWS

Apple Pay Enables Ventra Closed-Loop Fare Card in Chicago after Long Delay

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Apple has finally made good on plans to enable fare payments through Apple Pay with the closed-loop Ventra card from the Chicago Transit Authority, or CTA, the latest major closed-loop card the tech giant has enabled in recent months.

Visa Rolls Out SoftPOS technology as It Seeks to Promote Acceptance of Contactless by More Small and Micro-Merchants

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight -  Visa is rolling out what it calls “Tap to Phone” technology to 15 global markets, as it seeks to enable millions of small and micro-merchants that now mainly take cash to also accept contactless EMV credit and debit cards and credentials on NFC devices.

Trip-Planning Apps Moovit and Transit Enable Ticketing and Payments for Another Transit Agency

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Multimodal trip-planning apps Moovit and Transit have introduced ticketing and payments in their apps for another North American transit agency, following an emerging trend for trip-planning apps to enable users to plan, book and pay for their rides all in one place. The app providers are offering the extra service as they seek ways to give users a better mobility-as-a-service experience.

Australia’s Commonwealth Bank Seeks to Expand Involvement in Public Transit and Other Mobility Payments Projects

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the acquirer and processor for the open-loop payments service rolled out by Transport for New South Wales in Sydney, says it is negotiating with transit officials in other Australian states to help launch similar payments services. It also hopes to be involved in payments for mobility-as-a-service platforms.

Report: Nearly Two-Thirds of Survey Respondents Say They’ve Used Contactless Cards During Pandemic

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – There’s more evidence that the Covid-19 pandemic is helping to change the way that consumers pay, with more use of contactless cards, mobile wallets and e-commerce channels, according to the “World Payments Report 2020” published Tuesday by global consulting firm Capgemini.

UK Public Transit Officials in Midlands Seek to Replicate London’s Success in Pay-as-You-Go Contactless

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Transit officials in the Midlands in the UK today are calling on the government to fund a London-style contactless fare-payments system across this large section of the country, which would enable riders to tap to pay for trips on rail, bus and tram networks with either closed- and open-loop cards and credentials on smartphones.  

Post-Lockdown, Transit Riders Want Agencies to Run Vehicles More Frequently, Provide Real-Time Arrival Information and Offer Contactless and Mobile Payments

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight - Up to a third of transit riders in several cities say contactless payments and mobile ticketing would encourage them to return t

New York’s OMNY Project Completes Major Milestone, as Transit Officials Point to Steady Growth in Adoption

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it is seeing steady growth in use of its OMNY open-loop fare payments system by customers–though overall open-loop payments remain small–as the agency continues its phased rollout of acceptance of contactless EMV bank cards and NFC Pays wallets. 

In-Depth: Trip-Planning Giant Moovit Begins to Enable Ticketing and Payments, as Rivals Make Similar Moves

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Moovit, which bills itself as the world's largest “urban mobility app,” has begun to enable public transit ticketing and payments from its platform, as it seeks to deliver what it says is a true mobility-as-a-service experience for users.

Los Angeles Transit Authority Follows Through with Plans to Enable TAP Card for Apple Pay; Google Pay to Follow

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Another major U.S. transit agency has introduced a virtual closed-loop card for Apple Pay this week, with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro, announcing the move Thursday. It comes a couple of days after the Washington (D.C.) Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or WMATA, announced it had put its SmarTrip closed-loop card on Apple’s NFC-enabled devices, as well.

Apple Enables Virtual SmarTrip Fare Card for Apple Pay in Washington, D.C., with More Closed-Loop Transit Cards Expected This Year in U.S.

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Apple added support for its latest closed-loop transit card for Apple Pay, enabling customers of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or WMATA, to tap their NFC-enabled iPhones and Apple Watches to pay for rides with WMATA’s SmarTrip virtual card.

Insight: Apple’s Long Game Pays Off, Conquering Resistance to Apple Pay from Banks in Europe and Beyond

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – It’s coming up on six years since Apple announced its groundbreaking digital-payments service, Apple Pay. And while consumer adoption remains a work in progress, Apple has had considerable success gaining participation from banks and other issuers in what is now more than 50 countries worldwide.