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No cash, no problem: Hi-tech Paris priest makes sure his flock have no excuses

Churchgoers in a posh part of Paris now have no excuse not to cough up for the collection at mass after the priest installed contactless bank card terminals for donations.

No cash, no problem: Hi-tech Paris priest makes sure his flock have no excuses
Photo: ginasanders/ Depositphotos
This could mark the beginning of the end for the famous rattling of the church collection basket. 
 
For the first time in France the familiar beeping of the contactless payment — usually reserved for supermarkets and brasseries — will be joining the church chorus.
 
The high-tech move is taking place at Saint-François de Molitor, a church located in one of the wealthiest areas of Paris,
 
That means that during Sunday Mass, on top of the traditional baskets that circulate the pews, there will also be five connected wicker baskets, equipped with a smartphone linked to a mini-payment terminal (see tweet below) inviting churchgoers to donate €2, €3, €5 or €10.
 
That rules out the old excuse used by churchgoers over centuries of not having any cash.
 
In Paris, church donations — used to pay for expenses such as heating and electricity in the parish — have stagnated in recent years at an average of €3.
 
But the parish priest of the church in question, Father Didier Duverne has denied the move is about making money. 
 
“It amuses me, it's fun. Our parishioners are receptive to novelty,” he told Le Parisien which first revealed the story. “The interest is not economic.” 
 
 
“The experiment is not to increase the amount of donations but to anticipate the future, when people don't carry money anymore, even for their baguette,” he added. 
 
Some may even see it as a welcome relief from having to remember to have the right money on them ready for church as well as a chance to keep their donations anonymous. 
 
“The parish and the priests will never know the names of the people who give,” said Christophe Rousselot, the director of financial resources development in the diocese of Paris who came up with the prototype with French start-up Actoll. 
 
“The real challenge is that it goes as fast as possible,” said Rousselot. “In our country, two-thirds of credit card holders have the option to checkout without typing code.”
 
“The Church has no reason not to get with the times,” he added.
 
If the experiment works, the beeps of contactless payments may be ringing out from churches across the French capital sooner rather than later. 

LIVING IN FRANCE

France to roll out ID cards app

Technology is being rolled out to allow people to carry their French ID cards in an app form - and could be rolled out to other cards, including driving licences and cartes de séjour residency cards.

France to roll out ID cards app

Holders of French carte d’identité (ID cards) will soon be able to carry certified digital versions of them on their smartphone or other electronic devices, a decree published in the Journal Officiel has confirmed.

An official app is being developed for holders of the newer credit card-format ID cards that have information stored on a chip. A provisional test version of the app is expected at the end of May.

Users will be able to use the ID card app, when it becomes available, for a range of services “from checking in at the airport to renting a car”, according to Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market.

All French citizens have an ID card, which can be used for proving identity in a range of circumstances and for travel within the EU and Schengen zone – the new app will be in addition to the plastic card that holders already have.

Under the plans, after downloading the app, card holders will need merely to hold the card close to their phone to transfer the required information. According to officials, the holder then can decide what information is passed on – such as proof of age, or home address – according to the situation.

The government has not given any examples of situations in which the app would need to be used, but has set out the main principles and the ambition of the plan: to allow everyone to identify themselves and connect to certain public and private organisations, in particular those linked to the France Connect portal.

READ ALSO What is France Connect and how could it make your life simpler?

Cards will continue to be issued for the foreseeable future – this is merely an extension of the existing system.

Only French citizens have ID cards, but if successful the app is expected to be rolled out to include other cards, such as driving licences, cartes de séjour residency cards or even visas. A digital wallet is being developed at the European level – Member States have until September to agree what it could contain.

READ ALSO Eight smartphone apps that make life in France a bit easier

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