EE, O2 and Vodafone hook up for mobile payments

Mobile payments

Three giants of the mobile world have joined forces in a bid to accelerate adoption of mobile payments technology.

Everything Everywhere, O2 owner Telefonica UK and Vodafone have announced plans for a mobile marketing and payments joint venture, which is expected to launch before the end of 2011.

The new organisation will essentially act as a single marketplace for any business wanting to cash in on the mobile commerce space.

The trio promised to deliver a single platform for advertisers, marketing partners, retailers and banks to make it simpler to create mobile commerce products.

The yet to be named business will be open to all industry participants, the companies announced.

The group also pledged to provide the technology needed to assist the "speedy adoption of mobile wallet and payments."

As for how the joint venture will actually work, the business will consist of a number of different elements. First, there will be a team looking to put together "common capability," creating common technology and interfaces for companies using mobile payments to leverage.

There will also be a "one stop shop" essentially a central sales organisation to sell space to advertisers. It will help organisations book ad space, offer coupons and provide loyalty cards over mobiles.

Chief executive (CEO) of Telefonica UK, Ronan Dunne, described the joint venture as an "enabling layer," confirming it will not be doing payment processing through the infrastructure.

"For instance, a bank can put its products into [the venture]... and they can do it once rather than having to go operator by operator," said Dunne, during a phone briefing today.

"Whether you're a handset manufacturer thinking about NFC, or you're a bank thinking about virtualising your products, now you have a marketplace of size and scale that supports your product development."

No 3?

One notable absentee from the establishing group was 3, although due to the open nature of the joint venture, it could join later.

Initially, however, the three founding companies will be the ones running the show until the new business launches, said Dunne.

"In the future there will absolutely be opportunities for other players, whether it's 3 or Virgin Mobile, to actually buy the services of this entity like our businesses will do going forward," said Tom Alexander, CEO of Everything Everywhere.

"We welcome other partners to make this a reality for other UK plc. We want to get away from a very fragmented approach to establish the standards and the scale that makes NFC, contactless payments and mobile advertising a reality."

"At this stage, in order to get it up and running and launched and through clearance, we will do it with the three of us, because we're the ones who are operating in this space. Then we'll be open for business," he added.

An overarching aim of the project is to help make the mobile device the main technology helping people with their everyday lives.

"This new joint venture will for the first time mean that customers can leave their wallet at home," said Vodafone UK CEO Guy Laurence.

"It goes to prove the mobile phone is the most powerful gadget on the planet and you can actually put everyone's lives on one device."

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.