Weve, the mobile commerce joint venture between the UK's three largest mobile network operators, has partnered with MasterCard to add NFC payments to its offering. "We are in dialogue with all the major banks" and details of UK financial institutions planning to use the new service will be announced "in due course", Sean O'Connell, Weve's product development director, has told NFC World.
"We think it's absolutely a key move in shifting the market from the bespoke work that has been done," O'Connell explained. "I think everyone has done a lot of 'test and learn', a lot of sticking stickers on phones; now I think it's the start of making this happen collectively."
Under the terms of the agreement, MasterCard will provide technology and integration services to banks and financial institutions wishing to offer NFC payments via Weve to Vodafone, O2 and EE customers. The aim, O'Connell says, is to make it easier and more cost effective for banks to introduce the technology.
"I think the challenge has been, up until now, that if you really wanted to do mobile contactless payments at scale, you've been looking at a significant investment," he said. "That could be investment across ten different banks.
"You potentially are then looking at different integrations with different operators, you're looking at multiple technology stacks that you have to navigate through. What we're doing by working with MasterCard is saying, how do we simplify all of that, how do we make this very easy and compelling if you're an issuer to start offering this service to your customer."
"We can go to a bank, together with MasterCard, and say look, here's a platform, this is how it works, this is how we think we can create value for you and your customers, let's get together and make that happen," he added. "And that's very hard to do until you have a scheme in place that is helping to simplify that overall deployment with some interesting technology."
"Vodafone are launching their prepaid product in the UK later this year, EE are obviously in market with their Cash on Tap proposition so they're basically prepaid products where you can go and you can put a limited amount of money into an account in the same way as a closed-loop Starbucks payment system," O'Connell continued.
"They will be getting a reasonably significant push from the mobile operators. What that gives us is a useful set of training wheels for consumers, because it reduces the fear that people have around security and what happens if somebody steals my phone. Where we're looking to sort of drop in and enhance those propositions is the first half of next year."