Vodafone to launch mobile wallet service in UK next month

Vodafone is set to launch a mobile payments platform in the UK next month.

According to a report in the FT, the mobile operator has developed the service with Visa, and will use a special SIM card with embedded NFC technology that can be used to make contactless payments with retailers.

While a consumer launch of the service is on the cards later in the year, the firm is set to be beaten to it by Apple.

The consumer electronics giant is expected to unveil a mobile payments service baked into its forthcoming iPhone 6 model.

Vodafone's new service is expected to be only available on Android smartphones. The operator is also said to be working with third-party firms, such as loyalty points outfit Nectar. The technology will also be opened up to banks to use with their payments services.

The newspaper also reported the service will enable payment for travel on the London Underground as well as payments between customers.

Alix Pryde, head of innovation at Vodafone UK, told the FT that the "pieces are falling into place,"

"There are now the devices, the contactless payments and increasingly the consumer behaviour to make this a success," she said.

Customers of Vodafone wanting to use the service will have to replace existing Sim cards with NFC-enabled ones and also have a compatible handset.

Mark Ritzmann, Head of M-Commerce at Vodafone, said mobile payments could be used for transactions up to 25 but the operator was working on PIN-protected methods that would enable larger payments to be transacted.

Vodafone also said more than 300,000 terminals had been enabled for Visa contactless payments (a 67 per cent increase on last year) with more set to come online later.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.