Payment of some fines and bills at tabacs is to be extended from July after two million transactions took place in the first 18 months.
Buralistes are being encouraged to diversify to be less dependent on tobacco sales.
Since July 2020, they have served as payment points for fines, local government bills (such as school canteen fees) and tax bills under €300.
From this July, some will start offering payment services for other bills, including gas, electricity and telephones.
There is no charge for clients – buralistes will be paid commission from the companies.
At the end of last year, 6,500 communes in France had tabacs that offered these services.
Loto terminals process the payments
The average bill paid was €84, with payments being nearly equally divided between fines, local government bills and tax, figures from the Confédération des buralistes (CDB) show.
Payments are carried out using the Loto computer terminals already installed in shops. CDB president Philippe Coy said tobacco shops are essential if the state hopes to keep its promise of giving easy access to services to all French people.
“We are well-known. People have confidence in us, and in the framework of improving access to services, our network is a fundamental force,” he said.
Government grants to diversify
Tabacs have a state monopoly on the sale of tobacco, and for many years being able to buy a buraliste licence was seen as a reward for good service to the state, with many retired soldiers among those granted them.
However, as tobacco sales have dropped as a result of government health efforts and increased cigarette smuggling, the profession has lost its lustre.
The CDB has set up, with government help, a transition fund to help buralistes who want to offer more goods for sale and provide more services to the community. Thousands of tabacs, for example, now offer Nickel simple bank accounts.