Regular followers of our blog will know we are interested in contactless payments around the world, but also in the UK in particular. We ran our first Contactless Challenge in London following the 2012 Olympics, pitting two influential bloggers against each other. This was swiftly followed by a similar challenge in the US. Now, however, it seems that contactless payments – also known as Near-Field Communications (NFC) – are being further reinforced in the UK, with the announcement that Weve and MasterCard have partnered to truly speed up and kickstart UK mobile NFC payments.
By way of background, Weve is a mobile wallet and marketing joint venture of the UK’s biggest mobile carriers (Vodafone, EE and O2), providing a sort of clearing house for advertisers, retailers and banks who want to deal with phone users – a single point of contact on the carriers’ side. By partnering with MasterCard, as one argument goes, banks will have a similar opportunity, so they won’t have to deploy point-of-sale (POS) technology individually.
I think this partnership represents huge progress as both MasterCard and Weve can capitalize on a deployed standardized and proven technology – contactless readers are already deployed for contactless payment. Besides, with this partnership, Weve will give subscribers the ability to store their mobile wallet in their NFC SIM, which offers the highest level of security. Secure Elements are in fact the most secure solutions to store any credentials and to authenticate users.
While this means that we’ll be able to use contactless technology far more easily in and around the UK when shopping, there’s another benefit beyond payments, namely more targeted and personalized marketing. Banks will have a way of maintaining their communication channels with their customers, despite the growth of alternative wallet solutions to prevent disintermediation.
In the words of Weve CEO David Sear: “[…] our own vision of a world powered by mobile.” The possibilities for operators, retailers, banks and brands to engage with their customers have never been greater thanks to the opportunity offered by mobiles and technology advances.
It’ll be interesting to see what other initiatives and developments are afoot to firm up these channels of engagement via the mighty mobile. Mobile payments did feature at the recent Mobile World Congress, as the NY Times reports, but there are challenges to overcome – luckily, we believe there are also solutions to these challenges.