Cartes bancaires, the key solution to successful e-commerce in France

Success story: Payvision’s partnership with Rentabiliweb | Be2Bill

French e-Commerce Payment Landscape


France is internationally renowned for its export of local products and services with great international appeal. High e-commerce turnover and a large population make the Grande Nation a worthwhile market. With 79.6% of the French population (~53 million) online, France has currently 31.7 million active online shoppers; online sales rose to 45 billion euros in 2012 and are expected to soar to €70 billion by 2015. According to a recent PwC study, in 2013 France attracted only 5% of new web-buyers making their first purchase in the past year, compared to 21% in 2012, meaning the online shopping market in France is very mature and settled.






Notwithstanding the growing popularity of innovative payment methods, cards remain the preferred Online Payment Method (79%) in France throughout 2012. The uptake of alternative payments in the French market is rather low compared to other countries like Germany and The Netherlands with PayPal as exception.


Cartes Bancaires


Focusing on Card Payments, more than 80% of online sales are paid through Cartes Bancaires, the French interbank and universal payments system; via Visa, Mastercard or American Express. Groupement des Cartes Bancaires (GIE CB) is the French domestic Card Association. The Groupement Cartes Bancaires, created in 1984, is responsible for organizing the CB interbank system by means of three fundamental tasks: managing interbank cooperation, guaranteeing the security of the CB interbank system and organizing the authorization and clearing of transactions between its members. The GIE CB is an Economic Interest Group (EIG), representing more than 8 billion transactions, 130 banks or member payment institutions, 1.2 million merchants in France and nearly 60 million cardholders.


Besides the Cartes Bancaires, we should consider French language a main barrier, but also driver for cross-border e-commerce in France. From the whole French speaking population around the world, more than 20 million citizens of Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Monaco, have a very high probability rate to access French e-tailers and shop.


In order to make this possible, French e-merchants need to offer international payment processing services and multicurrency processing features, meaning they need to partner with international PSPs and acquirers and open up the French market. On the other hand, international e-merchants who want to expand into the French e-commerce market, need to provide the French online shoppers with their local preferred payment method: Cartes Bancaires.


As Carte Bancaire scheme uses a closed national network operated and controlled by the GIE Carte Bancaire, together with the language barrier, French market is not very easy to access by international merchants who intend to expand their business and sell their products in France.


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