The Normandy coastal town of Caen was one of the first places in France to discover the benefits of NFC technology back in 2007 when it took part in the Payez Mobile pilot program, a scheme billed as the world’s first large-scale trial of NFC.
Payez Mobile – launched by The Pegasus Group – saw Caen and fellow French city Strasbourg act as test beds for NFC technology in a bid to simplify local payments. Approximately 500 traders and 1,000 users across the two cities were involved in the trial, which included applications for purchasing, car parking, tourist information sharing and even promotions via active posters. Participants were given Sagem my700X, LG L600v and Motorola SLVR L7 handsets.
Other partners in the program include Visa, MasterCard, Philips (now NXP), Gemalto and Samsung; retailers Groupe LaSer, Vinci Park and Intermarche; banking institutions BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole-LCL, Credit Mutuel-CIC, Caisse d’Epargne, La Banque Postale Groups, Société Générale and Banques Populaires; and mobile operators France Telecom-Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom, NRJ Mobile, Oberthur Technologies, Ingenico, Sagem Monetel, Hypercom, Galitt and Inside Contactless.
The pilot proved system interoperability between all major banks and telcos and also led to the creation of the Association Européenne Payez Mobile (AEPM), an organization that promotes the rollout of NFC payment in France and internationally. The Caen NFC trial was an important precursor to the major contactless project in Nice, which began in the first half of 2010. The project has also been integrated in the GSM Association’s (GSMA) Pay-Buy-Mobile initiative.
The city’s commitment to the scheme remains strong – and although Nice is now the place to watch, Caen is still very much in the game. In 2010, France’s Minister of Industry confirmed his support for the country’s NFC Cities initiatives in up to five locations over the next 12 months. Funding and indirect support could be given to cities interested in being part of the next wave of NFC deployments, and although nothing has been finalised, Caen has been tipped as a possible contender.
It is also set to get involved in NFC-based ticketing when Orange launches its M-Stade project. The scheme will be run at two sports venues – the Stade de France in Paris and soccer team SM Caen’s stadium – and will enable ticket holders to use their NFC phones for ticketing and other services.
Click here to see the League Table on Caen