The funding will be used to build out an NFC transport ticketing infrastructure in Paris and other major French cities as national NFC standards are finalised and carriers prepare to rollout NFC payments services across France this year.
NFC projects in seventeen cities have been shortlisted to get funding from a €20m pot made available by the French government. The cash is aimed at speeding up the rollout of commercial NFC services in France as well as to help the country's NFC technology suppliers position themselves as leaders in the world market.
Cities with a population of at least 200,000 were eligible to apply for the funding and the applications made by the majority of the seventeen cities shortlisted involved a strong public transportation ticketing element.
The shortlist includes funding to enable STIF, which manages public transport in the Paris region and has been working on NFC since 2009, to switch to NFC ticketing as well as transport, tourism and information service projects in Besançon, Bordeaux, the Caen region, Dijon, Grenoble, Lille, Marseille, Mulhouse, Nice, Reims, Rennes, Strasbourg, Toulon and Toulouse. The cities include most of the largest in France and are located across the country, with half the French regions included in the list.
The announcement of the funding shortlist comes at the same time that AFSCM, the association responsible for developing the standards on which the French Cityzi NFC service are built, has completed and made publicly available a full set of standards, specifications and developer guidelines covering all aspects of its technology. Visa has now also signed an agreement with AEPM, the French Payez Mobile association working to develop NFC payments standards, that will allow Visa-branded payments products to be commercially deployed across France. MasterCard signed a similar agreement in December 2010.
The Cityzi NFC service has been on trial in Nice since May 2010. The service is now in the process of being rolled out in Strasbourg and in Caen and is due to go live in both Marseille and Bordeaux during the second quarter of 2012.