Prepaid Key to NFC Rollout in France (Nov. 11, 2013)
Mobile network operator Orange is teaming with Visa Europe in a strategic partnership to roll out its Orange Cash NFC-based mobile payments in France in the latest example of a prepaid card-based approach to contactless payment. Wirecard Group’s Wirecard Card Solutions, a Visa Europe member, will provide the stored value card technology with NFC-enabled handsets from Orange, the companies said last week. Wirecard also will supply loyalty and couponing services as part of the deal.
Orange is piloting the service now in Strasbourg and Caen, two French cities with a high density of contactless merchant terminals, with plans to roll out Orange Cash across France beginning in the second quarter of 2014, according to the announcement. Participating Orange subscribers may download the Orange Cash app, link a bank card and tap to pay at any contactless terminal; transactions over €20 (US$27) require a PIN. France has more than 200,000 active contactless terminals, Orange said, following a 50 percent surge in the total number of NFC-compatible terminals in the nation over the last six months.
Orange’s NFC push in France follows the approach used by Cash on Tap, an NFC-based payment service U.K. mobile network operator Everything Everywhere launched in July in partnership with MasterCard, using prepaid card technology from PrePay Solutions, a 2012 Paybefore Awards winner. Everything Everywhere, the joint venture of mobile carriers Orange and T-Mobile formed in 2010, last year announced a joint venture with MasterCard.
The latest deal is a prime example of how MNOs are harnessing prepaid card technology to generate broader consumer interest in mobile payments, Zilvinas Bareisis, a senior analyst with Celent, tells Paybefore. “[These] partnerships enable MNOs to launch their own prepaid accounts inside the phones, bypassing the need to cooperate with banks,” he says, noting that despite the limitation of not having direct access to bank accounts, such services benefit the overall payments ecosystem. “It’s a win-win for all—mobile networks, payment networks, customers and even banks, as they save on ATM and cash-recycling costs,” Bareisis says.