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Tabac shops in France will soon accept payment for utility bills

The new scheme will launch in 2023, and will include gas, electricity, water, and even some rent bills

A photo of a TABAC red sign outside a tabac shop in Bordeaux, France

Participating tabac shops across France will be able to accept payments from more types of bills from 2023 Pic: sylv1rob1 / Shutterstock

People in France will soon be able to pay for gas, electricity, water, telephone, and even some rent bills at their local tabac, in a new scheme set to launch in 2023.

La Française des jeux (FDJ), which operates items such as lottery tickets in tabac shops, is set to launch the scheme, named Nirio, next year across participating shops.

The FDJ has said that the new payment service is intended to meet the expectations of "six million households, i.e. 20% of the French population" who "do not wish to use direct debit to pay their bills".

FDJ has created the scheme in partnership with la Confédération des buralistes.

Tabac shops in France are identified by the red ‘long carrot’ (carotte rouge) sign on the front, with the word TABAC. They typically sell tobacco, lottery tickets, magazines, newspapers, and other common newsagent or convenience store goods. Some also operate cafes and bars.

Read more: Why is French tabac sign carrot-shaped? 

Since July 2020, FDJ has enabled people to pay taxes of less than €300, as well as fines, and local public service bills (crèche, canteen, hospital, etc.) in partner stores. So far, more than two million payment transactions have been recorded by the 13,500 tobacco shops that offer this service in more than 7,000 towns in France.

Read more: Banking, electricity and phone payments at your local tabac in France 

What payments will work through Nirio?

Nirio will enable people to pay their daily bills to private creditors (electricity, gas, water, telephone) but also their rent to social landlords. 

Stéphane Pallez, the president and CEO of the FDJ, told Ouest France: “We are in the process of working with, and starting to sign contracts with, social landlords and energy suppliers.” 

For example, La Française des Jeux has already signed a partnership with the Ile-de-France social landlord Seqens, a subsidiary of Action Logement, which manages 105,000 homes in the Ile-de-France region.

How will Nirio work?

In practice, you will need to scan your bill or rent receipt using the Nirio application on your smartphone. This will give you a payment QR code to present to a participating tabac shop. 

After showing your ID, you can pay your bill in cash or by credit card. You will then be given proof of payment.

The payment will be secure and confidential, as the tobacconist will not have access to any personal information or data.

Where will I be able to use Nirio?

The system is set to be rolled out gradually across 2023, pending approval from the financial sector authority l’Autorité de contrôle prudentiel de résolution (ACPR). 

More than 10,000 of the company's 30,000 retail partners have "already given their agreement to offer this service to their customers, of which more than 5,000 have already been approved by the ACPR", said the FDJ in a statement.

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