NFC Adoption at a Tipping Point in France

NFC payments have gone through a lot of ups and downs over the last 10 years from the Vivotech days to the Apple Pay time now. NFC technology enables short-range wireless transmission of data using electromagnetic radio waves between two NFC-enabled devices. Only when both the user and the merchant have NFC-enabled devices can the NFC-based mobile payment be made.

France has not yet accepted NFC technology at a nationwide level. Some of the issues are that the stores are ill-equipped (terminals) and the customers lack interest as they are skeptical about mobile payments in general. But the time is ripe for a contactless revolution.

From the latest figures of the French Association of Contactless Mobile Services (AFSCM), the number of contactless payment cards increased by 60% between 2013 and 2014 (more than 33 million outstanding). Still, only 18% of those who possess these cards use contactless payments.

There is still hope for NFC technology to become popular in France. Cityzi is an initiative to deploy NFC technology in France. It is a joint initiative of major telecom operators, banks, transport operators, traders and industrial players. As per French NFC trade association AFSCM reports, more than four million phone users in France now have a Cityzi-compatible NFC handset, an increase of 500,000 since July, 2013.

There are around 17.2 million contactless Visa cards in 2015, 7.3 million more compared to last year. At the same time, there are 348,000 NFC-capable payment terminals. This figure is 29% of the 1.2 million installed bases in France.

Executive director of Visa Europe France Gerard Nebouy estimates that there will be 21 million NFC cards in France by the end of the year, or 55% of all card holders, and 500,000 NFC terminals, or 40% of the installed base. Nebouy expects there to be 100 million NFC transactions in France this year, compared to 22 million in 2014, when they rose eightfold a year earlier.

By analyzing these figures, we can say that NFC technology is growing at a phenomenal rate in France. The customers are showing inclination towards this technology more and more.