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UK networks join up their mobile phone wallets

  • By Timothy Roberts
  • Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It looks like one of the big worries over a smartphone based mobile money system might be sidestepped in the UK by three of the mobile phone networks. O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere (which runs T-Mobile and Orange) have set up an as yet unnamed Joint Venture to run, administer and promote a UK wide mobile wallet system.

Writing on their blog, O2 said:

We believe the new business can deliver the services and technology needed to see faster adoption of the mobile wallet and related payment services. The wallet itself will enable customers to transfer their entire physical wallet onto their mobile device. And they’ll be able to purchase products or services online, or in-store through Near Field Communications (NFC). It’s about giving customers a great experience and bringing them new and innovative products that can make their lives easier. 

That’s something that many networks, handset providers and mobile money enabling organisations could write, but what’s impressive is that this is going to be available to most of the mobile population in the UK, it’s only going to need one marketing message pushed to educate the consumers and retailers. That’s going to give a lot of confidence in the system, and in terms of adoption that’s a huge win.

Yet there will be Anti-Trust issues in place here, but the Joint Venture should take care of that in a transparent way. What’s important is a commonality across the majority of smartphone users in the UK. Much like email, SMS messages or the cassette player, agreeing on a standard allows innovation while protecting capability and consistency.

The goal is to have the Joint Venture in place by the end of 2011, so I’d expect it to be up and running, and very visibly on show for the London 2012 Olympics. We’ll keep an eye on the progress here on the Mobile Money Transactions blog.