Three of the UK’s top mobile operators have today announced that they are to partner with each other and offer UK consumers mobile marketing and payments services, a deal that is the first of its kind in the UK.
The partnership, that includes O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere, is pending approval by the relevant authorities but will see users delivered targeted offers and also provided with payment services like a mobile wallet. If approved, the service is expected to launch at the end of the year, possibly launching in other European countries thereafter.
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A mobile wallet will see consumers transfer their money into their mobile phones, allowing them to purchase products and services online but also using Near Field Communications (NFC) technology in newer smartphone devices.
In February, O2 announced it was applying to the Financial Services Authority for a license that will allow the company to roll out its own wireless payment systems without needing to partner with a bank to do so.
The license would allow O2 to become an independent financial services provider and offer a virtual wallet, providing the functionality to make contactless payments or send money to other people. Orange has already partnered with Barclaycard to offer its own service.
It is believed that with O2, Everything Everywhere and Vodafone partnering, a dedicated license would be granted for the joint venture, removing the need for third-party partnerships.
The decision to partner likes comes as credit card companies and Internet startups begin to ready their own mobile payment services. Working individually, each operator would have to gain licenses and retailer backing independently, which could mean they are late to market.
However, a joint venture would ensure they could combine resource and offer a standard that the UK can support. It’s a clever move, one that has been long coming.