O2, Orange & Vodafone team up to develop m-payment standards

Three of Europe’s largest mobile operator groups are developing a standardised m-payments logo and terminology in an effort to promote the channel among consumers.

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Orange Group, a joint stakeholder in Everything Everywhere with Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and O2-parent Telefónica are taking part in a pan-European scheme to drive the uptake of near-field communications-based mobile payments.

Although the proposed logo and terminology is yet to be agreed, the move signals an unparalleled level of cooperation among the parties in the face of competition from Apple and Google, which are planning similar launches.

The news comes just two weeks after the UK units of each group revealed plans to launch a joint venture aimed at rolling out m-payments and promoting mobile advertising.

The proposed venture is undergoing regulatory scrutiny from the European Commission, which may refer the case to the UK’s Office of Fair Trading as part of the approval process.

The initiative, backed by the GSMA, was prompted by the operator groups’ wariness over potential confusion, among both brands and consumers, about the m-payments proposition.

Tobin Ireland, Vodafone Group’s commercial development director, said the operator was working closely with its UK unit and aimed to publicly promote such logos and terminology by the end of this year.

“The general aim of the logo will be to keep it as simple as possible and hopefully we’ll have it ready to go out by the end of the year after regulatory clearance,” he said. “We’re yet to agree on the terminology that will be used publicly about NFC, but we need to describe the benefits of it in a way people will understand.”

He also said the operators are preparing to discuss publicising the planned m-payments logo and terminology with retail and finance bodies to secure their support.

Ireland didn’t comment on when Vodafone will launch an m-payments service but did say it had begun trials.

An O2 spokesman told new media age that the initiative was aimed at “preventing fragmentation” over the marketing communications of m-payments. “We want to see standards for contactless and there are discussions around developing a mobile specific payments logo,” he said. “Basically, it’s about making it as easy as possible to understand.”

Orange and Barclaycard launched the UK’s first commercial m-payments service using NFC last month.

In a move similar to the joint m-payments promotions, Barclaycard has adapted its first ’Rollercoaster’ campaign to feature a Samsung NFC phone instead of a contactless card.

Meanwhile, it’s also offering customers £10 cash with each new mobile BarclayCard account opened and 10% cashback on all mobile purchases made within the first three months.

In a written statement to new media age, Daniel Gurrola, Orange Group’s VP of strategy, said, “France Telecom/Orange is working with other major European operators to make SIM-based mobile NFC services as widely available and as simple to use as possible for our customers.”

He went on to add that having a recognisable logo at potential usage points, such as payment tills and transport hubs, was key to popularising m-payments. “In order to achieve this, we’re considering several options, one of which is to use a single logo. But no final decision has been made in this regard and it remains work in progress,” read Gurrola’s statement.

This story first appeared on New Media Age. For more digital stories and analysis from NMA click here now

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