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French banks involved in a landmark trial of NFC mobile payment next year plan to download their payment applications over the mobile network to SIM cards in the phones, says one of the vendors on the project. The trial, "Payez Mobile," was launched last November and involves all major French banks and the country's three major mobile-network operators. About 1,000 users can tap their phones at about 200 merchant locations in the French cities of Caen and Strasbourg to make purchases. At present, banks, through vendors, preload the applications on SIM cards and then personalize them over the air. Sending the entire application over the network would give customers more flexibility in signing up for the service should the banks and telcos eventually roll it out. Bertrand Knopf, marketing director for the secure transactions unit of France-based SIM card supplier Gemalto, tells CardLine Global sister publication Cards&Payments he expects the second phase of the trial to begin next year and to include the downloads. France-based Oberthur Technologies also manages payment applications on the smaller number of SIMs it supplies for the project. Banks and telecommunication companies have reported high user-satisfaction rates for the trial and have said they would like to roll out the service when more NFC phones are available, perhaps in late 2009. Before then, organizers may also expand the number of merchants in the trial.

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