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Weve and MasterCard partner to drive UK mobile contactless payments

Weve, the joint venture mobile wallet and marketing platform from UK mobile network operators (MNOs) Vodafone, 02 and EE, has today unveiled a partnership with MasterCard to accelerate the adoption of mobile contactless payments (MCP) at the Point-of-Sale (PoS) in the UK.

MasterCard will use its existing relationships with banks, retailers and financial institutions (FIs) to provide technology and integration services to those wanting to join Weve’s payments platform. For Weve the link-up enables it to gain greater scale and consumer uptake as it says the MasterCard partnership will ensure simplicity, security and ease-of-use - negating the principal MCP and m-commerce barriers to adoption.  

According to David Sear, chief executive officer (CEO) of Weve speaking at the press conference today in London, the JV is particularly targeting retailers as “with 88% of transactions still occurring in shops there is scale at the PoS.”

Sear’s ex-colleague at VocaLink and now the president of MasterCard in the UK and Ireland, Marion King, said at the press conference that: “Weve brings 85% of mobile users in the UK to this partnership, while MasterCard has 55m active card users in the UK,” as she outlined the rationale behind the link-up.  

“We are utilising what’s out there to achieve scale,” continued King, as she briefly reviewed the last decade of mobile developments, reminding the audience that “MasterCard pioneered the first mobile m-commerce contactless technology 10 years ago, but it is only now that we are really starting to truly see consumer take-up.”  

The fact that there are now 33.6m near field communication (NFC) enabled cards in the UK from her firm and 165,000 associated NFC-enabled PoS terminal readers, means that the country is now ready for widescale consumer adoption to truly take off, argued King. She went on to mention the 3m plus users who’ve tapped their NFC-enabled bank card against the reader on Transport for London’s (TfL) red London buses since the rollout of this pilot in December 2012 as further evidence of growing consumer uptake of contactless technology in the UK; the clear assumption being that this NFC usage can be transferred to the mobile device. “We’ve also just done a deal to introduce contactless technology to 62 stations on the MerseyRail network in Liverpool, UK,” she added, while arguing that it is not just in the UK capital that contactless volumes are starting to flow.  

News Analysis: Mobile Contactless Payments
Time will tell how many actual users flow to the new MCP partnership between Weve and MasterCard but the fact that it uses existing customer bases, technology and platforms will help to enlarge its consumer ‘net’. Integration and ease-of-use should be impressive as it seeks to deliver the frictionless payments that are the ‘holy grail’ in this space.

Weve has 22m UK customers via its MNO owners who receive marketing messages and loyalty offers on their mobile handsets and 10 days ago it launched targeted advertising to these customers, said Sear, so it is contributing a considerable customer base of its own to this partnership.

As Sear said, speaking to bobsguide after the press conference in London, today: “This is about using MasterCard and the existing ‘rails’ in the industry to gain users and make the darn thing happen.” After many years of hype in the mobile m-commerce and MCP arena amen to that, but there is potential competition from Zapp and many others in this area, which is obviously why Weve wants to sew up the PoS retail MCP market that isn’t online, and gain traction fast with its new card partner.

The concept, technology and supporting infrastructure are finally aligning it seems, after more than a decade of development, and many past failures such as SimPay, so the MCP race is truly on for consumer usage and volume.   

  • Weve also announced at today’s press conference that they will be sharing stand presentations with MasterCard at the forthcoming Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2014 trade show in Barcelona, Spain, later this month. bobsguide will be running a wrap-up show report of the MWC show, as in previous years [click on the highlighted text], so look out for this report. You can also catch-up on all the goings-on in the mobile financial services space by reading Sirpa Nordlunds Mobey Forum bobsguide blogger (aka contributing editor) submissions.