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Carrefour to offer universal mobile payment and loyalty app as French m-wallets converge

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Wa! and Fivory, the two French electronic wallets developed respectively by Carrefour and BNP Paribas – and Crédit Mutuel, Auchan, Mastercard, Oney and Total – are pooling their expertise to create a “single secure, multiservice, app-based mobile payment solution” for retail.

The new unified app will enable the customer to pay, with just a single method for their purchases both in-store and on the Internet – and automatically getting their loyalty points and coupons, special offers and more in one app.

Since the two initiatives were launched, they have received the support and affiliation of a number of leading retail groups, including Auchan, Carrefour and Total, plus independent traders and other partners such as direct sales firms, events specialists and charity organisations.

A new brand name is scheduled to be released by the end of the year and the new app is expected to be available in early 2017.

BNP Paribas Group CEO Jean-Laurent Bonnafé explains: “This constitutes a new phase for our initiative. We’re seeing growing interest in the market for such a solution and it’s now vital that the complementary players work together to build and make available a solution able to meet new customer expectations in this changing world.”

Georges Plassat, Chairman and Chief Executive of Carrefour, adds: “The new opportunities opened up by digital technology have the advantage of placing the customer at the centre of all our thinking and all our concerns. We’re extremely keen to find solutions that enable us to anticipate our customers’ needs and expectations and improve both the purchasing experience and the service we provide – before, during and after the shopping expedition. This is absolutely indispensable if we’re going to do our job properly.”

Nicolas Théry, Chairman of Crédit Mutuel, says: “In forging this agreement we’re pooling our expertise in order to respond to the changes in consumer behaviour, propelled by the ubiquitous use of smartphones. Together we’re taking a major step towards widespread use of mobile payments and the consequent enhancement of the customer relationship.”

Wilhelm Hubner, General Manager of Auchan Retail, says: “The changes taking place in both people’s habits and technologies provide a wonderful opportunity to simplify and improve the customer experience that we offer across all our sales formats – i.e. our stores, Auchan Drive and e-commerce. This new unified mobile payment solution, which will be integrated into our myAuchan app, will offer enhanced benefits to customers, comprising paperless billing at the checkout, money-off vouchers and loyalty programmes, all serving to streamline the customer’s movement through the checkout and underpinning the new-generation retailing experience that we’re building day-by-day.”

Bart Willaert, General Manager, MasterCard in France, concludes: “The development of this new unified universal mobile payments solution, which will help to enhance the customer relationship, fits perfectly with Mastercard’s policy in favour of the digitisation of commerce and the creation of an ever more simple and straightforward purchasing experience. Mastercard supports and works hand-in-hand with such market initiatives.”

The move comes as mobile payments start to gain traction in many markets, with consumers starting to see that they can make paying for things online and in store much easier and often much more secure.

According to Visa’s 2016 Digital Payments Study, the number of consumers regularly using contactless mobile payments – whether via a smartphone, tablet or wearable – has tripled in the past year, with 54% of consumers surveyed regularly using a mobile device to make payments for a range of activities, compared to just 18% who were asked whether they used mobile payments to pay for everyday goods and services when the same study was conducted last year.

The move by Carrefour and BNP Paribas to merge their two wallets makes sense as the increasing interest in m-payments from consumers is forcing consolidation within the m-payment market. As shoppers start to embrace mobile payments across different retailers, the need to have one unified wallet becomes paramount.

That said, there are many in the payments industry that believe that, ultimately, since most consumers have an Apple or Android smartphone, Apple Pay and Android Pay will emerge as the only wallets people use.

Speaking at World Telemedia in Marbella this week, leading m-payments expert Tim Green, Editor of talk delegates that ultimately all wallets are likely to be doomed, first by Apple and Android Pay then by payments becoming software built into the phone and so obviating the need for cards and wallets at all.

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