UK carriers thumb noses at Isis, form mobile payment joint venture

Everything Everywhere (Orange & T-Mobile UK), Telefónica UK (O2) and Vodafone UK are creating a yet-to-be-named joint mobile commerce venture.

The joint venture is still “subject to competition clearance” by Ofcom, but the three telecoms are hopeful they can launch by the end of the year.

The concept is to develop a singular cross-platform solution for mobile payments that will encourage banks, merchants, advertisers and of course, consumers to adopt NFC-based mobile payment technology.

Carriers see mobile payments as the next new revenue stream in mobile, and one they don’t want to let the likes of VISA and Google beat them to. Because of their size and level of control over their customers, this joint venture is in excellent position to control the market, if they are able to overcome obstacles that befell others before them.

In the UK, services like M-Pay and Simpay have gone by the wayside, and Isis, the US carriers’ effort at becoming a mobile payment portal, fell apart when merchants scoffed at the idea of using Discover card terminals.

The UK carriers plan to focus on the technology’s marketing and advertising opportunities, rather than attempt to be a stand-in for VISA (and taking a cut of transaction fees). With the carriers’ subscriber data, they can offer advertisers targeted demographics to deliver their ads and marketing, which has proven to be very valuable.

It is interesting to note that Three is the only major UK carrier excluded from the joint venture.


Author: Matthew Ismael Ruiz

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