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O2 UK commits to commercial NFC launch in second half of 2011

“My ambition would be to engage a very substantial proportion of the O2 customer base,” James Le Brocq, head of O2 UK’s financial services division, told NFC World, as the mobile network operator confirmed plans to launch commercial NFC services in the UK later this year.

O2's James Le Brocq

LE BROCQ: O2 won't partner with another bank when its deal with RBS ends next year; it will instead seek its own e-money license

O2 UK has confirmed that it plans to launch commercial NFC services in the second half of this year, just a week after Orange and Barclaycard announced they would be launching their own commercial UK service during the second quarter of 2011.

“My ambition would be to engage a very substantial proportion of the O2 customer base with the mobile wallet,” James Le Brocq, managing director of O2 UK’s financial services division, has told NFC World.

O2 UK’s long-term vision for NFC, says Le Brocq, is to “bring the contents of your wallet to your mobile phone and create your mobile wallet.” That means O2 will seek to work with the widest possible range of service providers, he explained, and is looking at the potential of offering everything from ticketing and access control to payments, loyalty card applications and a number of specialist corporate services.

“I have to let customers put whatever product they want into their wallet,” Le Brocq continued. But, as well as working with other service providers, O2 also has “every intention of providing O2 Money products.” To that end, O2 won’t be partnering with another bank on the O2 Money prepaid card it launched in 2009 when its deal with RBS comes to an end at the close of 2011.

Instead, O2 plans to apply for an e-money license so that it can hold funds on behalf of its customers and “better control the whole customer experience.” That said, Le Brocq is quick to point out, the operator “has no plan to be a bank.”

Since the launch of O2 Money in 2009, 800,000 customers have signed up for one or more of the operation’s device insurance, travel insurance or prepaid card services and the company is now recruiting for a number of positions in readiness for the launch of NFC services.

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