French operators collaborate on online payments

France’s three main mobile operators – Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom – and IT services firm Atos Origin have formed an online payments joint venture that will launch across France later this year. Known as ‘Buystar,’ the JV aims to provide a payment solution for both fixed-line Internet purchases and via smartphones. The new solution is being backed by major online retailers in France, including Aquarelle, Brandalley, Darty and Rue du Commerce. The firm has applied for (and is still waiting on) a banking licence from the Banque de France, which will allow it to operate and market the Buyster payment facility in the country. Once this happens Buyster will be able to link bank card details to a mobile phone number – allowing users to make purchases using just their phone number and a confidential Buyster code. Carrier billing is also expected to be supported for online micropayments.

“We are setting out our ambition to become a key player in e-commerce payment and the leading company in France for m-commerce; a market with strong potential,” said Eric Gontier, CEO of Buyster. “Over the next five years, we are counting on a share of the m-commerce market representing 10 percent of the turnover for e-commerce with an estimated amount of just over EUR6 billion.” The Buystar JV is distinct from NFC-based mobile payment schemes (being trialled by the likes of Orange and others), which focus on contactless payments for physical goods.

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