French Telecoms Launch E-Payment System To Rival Paypal – Worldcrunch

Three rivals in France’s telecommunications market, Orange, SFR and Bouygues, join forces to form ‘Buyster,” an e-payment system that aims to compete with US giants Paypal, Google and Apple.

Solveig Godeluck
PARIS – It’s no longer an entente, but a sacred union. Rival French telecommunication operators Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom have agreed to work together to create a new Internet payment system to rival the likes of Ebay’s Paypal.
The move comes none too soon as Google and Apple also muscle into the e-payment scene, eager to obtain customer bank details and position themselves as the new masters of online billing, just like the telecom operators.
High stakes and high investment. Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom have created a joint, company, with 2.8 million euros ($3.8 million) of capital, called Buyster. The project was launched last May under the codename MNOP (Mobile Network Operator Payment).
Each partner holds a quarter of the capital. The rest is owned by Atos Origin, an IT provider with essential expertise in online financial transactions. The company’s CEO Eric Gontier is a former consultant at Vertone who previously worked with the operators on their marketing strategies.
A team of 15 people is already working on the system which is scheduled to be operational before the summer. In the meantime, the company is seeking approval from the Bank of France to operate as a payment institution.
The new service will enable Internet users to pay via Buyster from any connected terminal: computer, smartphone, tablet, connected TV. The one necessity will be a mobile phone – any handset, it doesn’t have to be the latest model. After being authenticated by giving a mobile number and entering a password, the user will receive an SMS with a code enabling transactions to go through.
In an interview with Les Echos, Eric Gontier laid out the project’s big ambitions. “We want to become the leader for remote payment via mobile phone, and the number two player via fixed Internet in France.” It is even easier to make purchases via a smartphone, because the operator already knows your number (so there is no need to enter it again).
Not surprisingly, “m-commerce” (“m” for mobile) is considered a sector with quite a bright future. The online business grew 24 percent in France last year and was worth 31 billion euros ($42.6 billion). Within five years this figure is expected to double, with 10 percent of online payments likely to be made via the mobile phone.
Gontier has his sights on six billion euros ($8.2 billion) worth of transactions. But for now, the fledgling Buyster has to sign up as many Internet users as possible – its marketing budget has not been revealed. At the same time, it must also enroll so-called “e-tailers.” French retailers Aquarelle, Rueducommerce, Darty and Brandalley have already agreed to propose online payment via Buyster, in addition to Mastercard, Visa and other credit card brands.
Atos Origin brings with it a network of 30,000 retailers, banking partner BNP Paribas another 5,000, but the user has to sign new contracts in order to use Buyster. The new company will also probably have some difficulty being accepted on eBay, which not surprisingly will probably prefer that clients use its subsidiary Paypal. Other international players, such as Amazon, may also have little enthusiasm for a payment system that only works with retailers based in France.
Read the original article in French
Crunch the numbers, or just look around…and we see that immigrants, wherever they may come from, are not a disproportionate cause of crime or cultural degradation across Europe.
Lampedusa in 2015, Sicily, Italy
Standing outside Hamburg’s Arts and Crafts Museum, I observe a little the traffic and bustle of this historic German port, home to two million people. I notice to my right two German women sitting on the grass in the Carl Legien Platz, gaunt but eager as they prepare themselves a syringe full of some drug. To the left, sitting on the museum’s steps, is an African man, wearing a pretty checked shirt and white cap. He wipes his face in despair, trying to decipher a manual for a gadget or contraption.
Once they have had their injection, the women recline to enjoy the buzz, until two policemen arrive. They dryly nod at the African and ask the women for their ID. I observed with fascination and must say, no travel journalist should omit to record these little bits of reality. They are as informative to readers as sight-seeing recommendations or dining tips.
The origin story of the current migration situation depends on which historical period you start with. In the first centuries after Christ, most migration in Europe was inside the Roman Empire, with some arrivals from beyond its frontiers. In other words, you wouldn’t have found many Chinese shopkeepers in that European Union.
It was habitual then for legionaries — after 25 years of mandatory soldiering — to be given a plot of farming land, but with one condition: They had to move to a zone other than their birthplace. A soldier born in Gaul would likely be given land in Italy or the Iberian peninsula (Hispania). The fall of the Western Empire in the 5th century meant more migration. Germanic hordes moved south and settled where they pleased, while the Muslim conquest of Spain in the 8th century opened the peninsula to numerous Arabs, Moors and Jews.
Today, the answer is not as simple. A globalized world provides as many options for entering your chosen country as there are transport facilities. Official figures give us an overview of the migratory panorama. The European Commission’s figures for 2019 cited the non-EU nationalities given the most residency permits were from Ukraine, Morocco and India, with Ukrainians far ahead of the rest. But the top nationalities in terms of asylum applications that year were quite different: Syrians, Afghans, Venezuelans, Colombians, Iraqis, Pakistanis — clearly people from failed states or countries at war.
These refugees (for that is what they are), are also mostly illegal migrants. The prize in this dismal category goes to the Syrians, who constituted 17.3% of those who entered Europe illegally, though the vast majority were from Islamic states. Yet in 2019, the 125,100 illegal entries into Europe were at the lowest number in seven years, while 491,000 non-EU nationals were thrown out of the EU.
European Commission figures from 2020 indicate that 37 million EU residents, or 8.2% of its population, were born outside the block. Worldwide, the five countries with the most foreign-born residents are Australia, Switzerland, Canada, Norway and the United States, respectively. They are not Sweden, Spain, France or Germany, as you might think, given the rise of nationalist movements there. Only 10% — or about three million — of the world’s refugee population is currently in the EU. Most settle in neighboring states like Turkey. In 2020, the EU registered around 93,700 asylum applications, of which some 49,500 were ultimately accepted.
Comparing crime rates from 2012 to 2020 in the five countries with the most foreign-born residents (Australia, Switzerland, Canada, Norway and the U.S.), does not necessarily yield a rise in crime rates clearly and proportionately attributable to immigration. Australia’s crime rate of 41.36 in 2012 stood at 40.36 in 2020. The United States’ crime rate rose from 47.2 to 64.93, but Norway’s fell from 35.43 to 19.07.
The four EU countries with the most foreign-born residents are Germany, France, Italy and Spain. In those same years, Germany’s crime rate rose from 21.02 to 34.81, France’s rose slightly from 44.76 to 46.79, and Italy’s fell from 56.67 to 44.26. Spain’s rate also fell.

The U.S. has so many problems — including the 390 million firearms circulating among 330 million Americans — that blaming migrants for criminality is at best, simplistic. Nor can crime be linked to particular groups, like Muslims, or to regions. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates had the lowest crime rates in 2020 (and numerous migrants), while the Global Peace Index placed several African states like Tanzania, Ghana and Zambia above France as peaceful nations. The idea that migrants export the violence of their home countries is also, debatable.
If we consider drugs instead to be an important cause of crime in European countries, we should know that Denmark, the EU country with the strictest migration policy, has much higher rates of cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy) and amphetamine use, and related deaths, than Spain and Italy. The Netherlands likewise has disturbing ties to drug trafficking in the EU, and is not among the top 40 countries in the world in terms of immigrants. These considerations might even help explain why I found the German girls taking drugs and the African man engrossed in a manual.
A building bearing a “refugees welcome” banner in Madrid, Spain
We’re likely all familiar with the idea of immigration as a cultural bulldozer. In Hispania, the romanization process (fueled by the legionaries-turned-farmers), meant the systematic eradication of its Celtic and Iberian cultures. After the empire, the northern barbarians descended to set the Roman villas on fire, the Arabs made southern Spain Islamic practically throughout the Middle Ages, and later, the Bourbons brought us their homeland’s French fashions and quirks.
Today, can we say immigration crushes cultures? We could, but as an answer, it would be problematic and raise more questions. Where does the ‘destructive’ migration come from? Do we need individuals to provoke this destruction?
In 1970 there was no McDonald’s in Europe. Today it has 6,000 outlets across the continent. In countries like Sweden and France, we find the chilling rate of 22 and 21 McDonald’s restaurants per million inhabitants. Every one of them means people will not be eating in a traditional eatery. I must confess now, I lied. I am not in Hamburg. I was in Hamburg last week. Now I’m in Sundsvall, Sweden, and have been looking for days for a place serving a traditional Sami (reindeer) dish. All I can find, though, are Starbucks-style coffee shops, fast-food joints and Asian street food!
Just as a game, you might stroll through your neighborhood one day with the vision of an inveterate racist, looking for the destroyers of culture. If you live in a city, you will find so many it is frightening: foreign clothes shops, Asian and Italian restaurants, youth busy feeding Chinese data banks on their phones, Instagram photo ops. You’ll see all this before you find a mosque or a falafel shop. Meanwhile, nations, even the smallest ones with migrant rates like big cities, firmly hold onto their cultural traits.
Might we say that immigration’s biggest harm to our culture is in the arrival of ideas, products and lifestyles alien to our own, rather than the presence of foreigners? Can we see at least that the criminal, homophobic and sexist Muslims are really a tiny part of the bigger numbers and percentages? Can we make sense of the contrast between the blond girls dazed in the park and migrants working like mad to make it their new homes?
Indeed, regardless of the Muslim threat to the European lifestyle, is there even a European lifestyle for which we should be concerned? Has it not been devoured by the “Western” lifestyle?
Perhaps, and I am speculating here, the problem is not outside but in ourselves. While we are in decline, mired in excuses, protests, drink, drugs and digital fantasies, migrants are crossing deserts and oceans, and showing the kind of unstinting, mind-boggling valor we have lost in Europe. It is possible, though I would assert nothing. The figures are suggestive enough.
*This article was translated from Spanish with the permission of the author.
Crunch the numbers, or just look around…and we see that immigrants, wherever they may come from, are not a disproportionate cause of crime or cultural degradation across Europe.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has no shortage of oil and gas. And yet, its people and industries are having to contend right now with regular power cuts. The question, then, is why, and what — if anything — the Iranian government can hope to do about it.
Born some eight centuries ago, the famed poet and philosopher Rumi offered ideas on religion that bear little resemblance to the brand of Islam being imposed right now in Afghanistan by the Taliban regime.