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France Country Report

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  • Published Date: February 2019 – Update to be published April 2021

A comprehensive overview of the cards, payments and consumer banking market in France.

The Verisk Financial Research France Country Report delivers commentary on France's retail banking and payments landscape supported by historic and forecast data. The report gives detailed insight into the market's key players, including cards networks, issuers, acquirers, banks, and PSPs, plus France's payments infrastructure, digital and mobile payments developments, demographic and consumer trends, regulatory drivers, credit card profitability, and more.


  • France's retail banking and payments landscape is dominated by five large banking groups: BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Société Générale, BPCE and Crédit Mutuel.
  • These banks are the leading issuers and acquirers in the market and are also key stakeholders in the national card association. Additionally, they compete with fintechs through mobile payment services and online banking subsidiaries.
  • There are several new banks providing competition to traditional retail banks in the market. These banks vary considerably in their delivery mechanisms, range of services and ownership models.
  • Contactless, mobile and instant payments are being promoted by the French government as alternatives to cash and cheques, which remain in widespread use.
  • Instant payments were made available in France in 2018 through the SEPA Instant Credit Transfer scheme. These have been made available by most banks – though many levy a charge which discourages widespread use.
  • The average French adult made 264 card purchases during 2018, of which 15 per cent were contactless and 13 per cent online.
  • There is a competitive mobile payments landscape though usage remains low. Homegrown options such as Paylib, Lyf Pay and Lydia compete with Apple, Samsung and Google.
  • Most bank-issued cards are issued on the domestic Cartes Bancaires network and co-badged with Visa or Mastercard.
  • Deferred debit cards are more common than revolving credit cards and attract higher transaction volumes.
  • Multifunctional cards are a feature of the French cards market with different combinations of debit, deferred debit and credit functionality available on a single card.
  • The market in France for revolving credit cards has declined significantly in the last decade due to new legislation placing restrictions on revolving credit. This has resulted in a substantial shift away from revolving credit towards other forms of consumer credit.
  • This has also weakened the position of consumer finance specialists such as Cetelem, which traditionally played a leading role in France's credit cards market.

France Payments research | Report Contents

Key Topics
Demographics and the economy
Payments environment
French cards market
Mobile payments
Profit pool
The networks
Key retail banks and issuers
Acquiring and processing
Online acquiring
Regulatory and other cards market information

Appendices: Payment Card Data

Appendix I: Demographics and the economy

  • Population metrics
  • Ownership of key consumer devices
  • Internet usage by population

Appendix II: Payments environment

  • Access points
  • Account penetration
  • Consumer payment trends
  • B2C e-commerce payment methods

Appendix III: Cards market

  • Total cards payment metrics
  • Contactless cards metrics
  • France credit card data numbers
  • Total credit cards metrics
  • Credit cards profitability indicators
  • Debit cards numbers
  • Debit cards metrics
  • Prepaid/e-money cards metrics

Appendix IV: Mobile payments

  • Mobile proximity payment metrics
  • Mobile P2P payments

Appendix V: Profit pool

  • French profit pool

Appendix VI: The card networks

  • Networks' credit card market shares
  • Networks' credit card numbers
  • Networks' credit card billed volume
  • Networks' number of credit card transactions
  • Networks' average credit card transaction value
  • Credit card interchange fees by network
  • Networks' debit card market shares
  • Networks' debit card numbers
  • Networks' debit card billed volume
  • Networks' number of debit card transactions
  • Networks' average debit card transaction value

Appendix VII: Debit card interchange fees by network

  • Appendix VII: Key retail banks and issuers
  • Key credit card issuers market shares by credit card numbers
  • Key issuers market shares in credit card outstandings
  • Key debit card issuers market shares by debit card numbers
  • Appendix VIII: Acquiring and processing
  • Merchant acquirer credit card market share
  • Credit card merchant service charges
  • Merchant acquirer debit card market share
  • Debit card merchant service charges
  • Credit card issuer/issuing processor relationships
  • Credit card acquirer/acquiring processor relationships
  • Credit card issuing processor market shares by card numbers
  • Credit card acquiring processor market shares by the number of POS transactions

Appendix IX: Online acquirers

  • Online merchant acquirer market share

France Country Report | Selected Extracts

Demographics and Economy: With a high birth rate and immigration, France's 2017 population of 65 million is forecast to reach 74 million in 2050. As in other European countries, the French population is ageing: the proportion of over-60s in the population will increase to 37% in 2050.

Payments Environment:
France's payments ecosystem, in common with many Western economies, is currently in the process of evolving from one dominated by traditional payment methods such as cash, cards, cheques and bank transfers to a more digital-centric one.

Cards market:
France is Western Europe's second-largest cards market by billed volume. Total purchase volume on credit and debit cards was an estimated $687 billion in 2018. This equates to 264 purchase transactions worth a total of $12,398 per adult in the country.

Mobile Payments:
Mobile payments have yet to gain significant traction among French consumers though competition between providers is growing. Providers offer differing selections of payments solutions with online and POS payments, peer-to-peer payments and loyalty offers among the key services.

Profit Pool:
Although the absence of a fully developed revolving credit cards market has restricted credit card profitability, local issuers have adjusted their business models to better suit French consumers' attitudes towards credit.

Card Networks:
Almost 90% of cards issued in Visa France are issued on the domestic Cartes Bancaires network, with virtually all of these co-badged with either Visa or Mastercard. Domestic transactions on co-badged cards have traditionally been processed through CB with the Visa or Mastercard network used for international transactions.

Key Retail Banks and Issuers:
The big five banking groups – BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole, BPCE, Societe Generale and Credit Mutuel – dominate the issuing market in France. They issue cards through their retail banking arms as well as through consumer finance subsidiaries.

Acquiring and Processing:
In contrast to many European markets, where the traditional domestic acquirers are being squeezed out by specialist acquirers, acquiring in France is carried out by the issuing banks. With a combined share of 78% of transactions, the top five banking groups are also the largest acquirers.

Online Acquiring:
France is Europe's second-largest e-commerce market behind Britain. Amazon is the largest online retailer, but France is home to a number of successful pure-play e-commerce merchants, including Cdiscount and Vente-Privee.

Regulatory and Markets Information:
Several fundamental laws define the organisation and development of the French banking and financial system. The Banking Act of 24 January 1984 created a common legal framework for all credit institutions and defined the principles aimed at guaranteeing the stability of the banking system.


Verisk financial reports include detailed market and competitor intelligence on payments cards, e-money, acquiring, retail banking, and consumer credit in Europe. Analysts use primary and secondary source data and conduct in-depth interviews with senior industry executives and finance experts.

See more European country reports or explore cards & payments research reports for 72 markets worldwide.

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