(Credit: Photo by Jason Hiner)

France launched a multi-million dollar initiative to get the country's youth more culturally involved. Called "the GPS of culture" and an "artsy Tinder," the Pass Culture app, or Culture Pass gives €500 (US $584) of free credits for 18 year-olds to use at cultural events or goods.

The app is available to everyone, but the credit is only for 18 year-olds. The geolocation system shows users events in realtime.

French President Emmanuel Macron promised the app during his campaign. It's been tested in Seine-Saint-Denis, Hérault, Bas-Rhin, and Guyane over the summer. Next month it'll go live in Finistère. Next year, a more widespread roll out is scheduled. Macron said exposure to culture helped close inequality gaps.

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France has long been seen as one of the cultural capitals of the world. It seems strange that the country's youth aren't thoroughly immersed in the beautiful sights others only dream of seeing.

"In Lunel, the 'French Molenbeek,' young people loiter outside apartment blocks. The allure of the pass will allow them to leave their houses," Patrick Vignal, Hérault's delegate in the assembly, told the Libération.

Enki, a 19 year-old French resident, is interested in the app.

"Frankly, we are not well aware of what is happening and for now it's interesting. We are waiting to see what they offer us," Enki said.

Not everyone is convinced Pass Culture will be a success. Jack Lang, former socialist minister of culture is worried the app will encourage consumerism. He also pointed to a similar initiative in Italy that failed.

Italian 18-year-olds were given the same free credit for cultural events and purchases in the fall of 2016. The program,, cost Italy's government almost $400 million. Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced the plan after the November terror attacks in Paris.

Four months later, a black market emerged with 18 year-olds forgoing museum trips and selling off their credits to the highest bidder.

The French Cultural Minister Françoise Nyssen is trying to cover all bases before the app gets any bigger. Nyssen wants to promote the arts over the purchasing of goods. She hopes that more coverage of possible events will help prevent the credit from being seen as free pocket money.

Eighty percent of the app's tab is covered by the private sector. France will underwrite the rest.

One item that remains to be seen is if the data the app is collecting on the activities of millions of teenagers will tarnish the app's reputation.

Ex-president of the Centre National du Cinéma et de l'image animée (CNC) Eric Garandeau was the second half of a team the French Ministry of Culture selected to navigate the app's legal and financial engineering. Garandeau said the app would hold onto the information of many users.

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  1. France developed an app called Pass Culture which gives 18 year-old users a credit of almost €500 to participate in cultural activities and purchase goods.
  2. A similar app birthed a black market when it launched in Italy two years ago. Some are wary of a similar result in France, and are also worried about the personal data policy.

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Shelby is an Associate Writer for