Vodafone takes on O2 and Google with mobile wallet launch

Vodafone has announced plans to launch a mobile wallet service that will let customers make everyday transactions such as making payments and collecting loyalty points directly from their mobile phones.  

Vodafone Freebee
Vodafone will launch an NFC-enabled mobile wallet next year.

The mobile operator today (22 November) announced plans to roll out the NFC-enabled Vodafone Wallet which can house a number of different apps, across Europe. The UK launch is expected in spring next year.  

Users will be able to download the apps, such as a store card app, which can then be housed within the wallet, and then accessed by swiping over an appropriate terminal. For instance, the first app to be made available for the service is the Vodafone SmartPass app, which has been developed in conjunction with Visa, which customers can use to make payments by loading it with funds and then swiping it at Visa terminals.

Vodafone claims it is working with major European banks to integrate their card portfolios into the wallet, plus the service will also be made available to other organisations such as retailers and travel companies.

NFC-enabled devices from manufacturers including Samsung, Sony and HTC will all support the service, and users’ personal details, such as payment information, will be stored on their SIM card, providing extra security, claims Vodafone.   

Christian Wirtz, Vodafone’s group mCommerce director, says: “By building our service on the latest GlobalPlatform [open source technology platform] standard – as opposed to a proprietary system – our mobile wallet is open to all third-party service providers, including banks and financial institutions, and we are focused on delivering the broadest service portfolio possible.”

The service will be similar to the Google Wallet proposition which launched in the US two years ago but has yet to be introduced into the UK market. The eventual UK launch will be in direct competition with O2 Wallet, which the Telefonica outfit launched last year, although its proposition doesn’t currently have NFC functionality. 

Earlier this year it emerged that Weve – a joint venture company between EE, O2 and Vodafone – was also developing a mobile loyalty app that will give users a single point of access to their various store cards on their phones.  

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