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REX: Even More Growth Relays for Meal Vouchers

The French commission for meal vouchers (Commission Nationale des Titres-Restaurant – CNTR) are celebrating their 50th anniversary: an occasion for them to look back on how far this means of payment has changed, and outline likely evolution.

Meal vouchers came to existence half a century ago. This means of payment intended for employees’ luncheon purchases has been evolving ever since and should be addressing self-employed workers as well this year. The point is to speed up to pace of their dematerialisation process, and a “full-digital” goal has been set up to 2020.

To date, four million employees have access to this social advantage; 140,000 companies and local administrations have implemented this service. In France, 180,000 restaurants and merchants accept them.

Besides their being made available to self-employed workers, the CNTR also counts on gaining traction with very small companies, where luncheon vouchers are seldom proposed still (5% for companies with only 1 or 2 employees, and 10 to 15% with small businesses in general, compared to roughly 50% with large groups).

Comments – Solidarity-oriented means of payment

This anniversary stresses the idea that meal vouchers have become a social advantage exempt from charges, and a growth relay for the catering/food industry. These coupons account for roughly 15% of their accepting stores’ revenue.

Besides this “social” dimension, they have been applied innovative changes over the years, new players even keep entering the market. Lunchr’s Mastercard card, for instance, mostly addresses small businesses.

Issuers have also been working on paperless (card and mobile-based) offers since 2014. They aim for full dematerialisation by 2020, and they are even planning to forbid paper versions altogether past this deadline. Edenred, and their 37% market share, have largely been contributing to this modernisation process. One third of their users now have a payment card and no longer have access to paper versions. The group also focuses on mobile developments, so they would not miss out on opportunities. Up, which gathers 30% market share, claims that 10% of their beneficiaries now have paperless meal vouchers, but expects this figure to reach 30% this year. Dematerialisation processes are well underway, as only 5% of the issuing volume was paperless in the end of 2016.