France's largest retail chains have agreed to work together with the country's leading mobile operators to put in place a series of large scale near field communication trials that will see consumers using NFC phones to make payments and manage their loyalty cards.
France's largest retail chains and its three mobile operators have joined together under the name Ergosum to push forward the date that NFC-based mobile transactions arrive in France.
Auchan, Carrefour, Castorama, Fnac, Kinepolis, Jules, Leroy Merlin and Groupement des Mousquetaires (which includes supermarket chain Intermarché) as well as most of the retailers' financial services arms (including Banque Accord, Cofidis, Finaref and Laser) have joined the Ergosum initiative, along with mobile operators Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom.
By Christmas 2009, the group says, customers of the three mobile operators will be able to participate in large scale trials that enable them to use their mobile phones to pay for purchases in the group's stores, to store and to redeem mobile coupons and to replace their existing store cards with virtual loyalty cards held and updated on their phone.
"We are all sitting down together around the table because we want to move fast," Laurent Jullien, director of mobile payments at Bouygues Telecom, told Le Figaro. "To do that, the system needs to be as simple as possible for the customer and to function in all the shops and with all the operators." The goal is to enable the customer to pay with one simple touch of his phone, he explained, and to ensure that he no longer needs to carry any change, payment cards or loyalty cards.