Visa Europe is to take a 15% equity stake in the Mobile Money Network (MMN), a joint venture between its existing partner Monitise, Carphone Warehouse founder Charles Dunstone and the retailer Best Buy Europe, which is coincidently exiting the UK market after encountering fierce local competition, suggesting the first two partners will henceforth be the driving force for the jv, alongside ex-M&S head Stuart Rose.
The MNN Simply Tap mobile checkout technology went live last year with several other UK retailers signed up such as the similarly struggling chocolatier, Thorntons, and the jewellers Goldsmiths. The stored value Near Field Communication technology deployed in smartphones these days allied to the downloadable m-wallet and image recognition application means that customers can use their mobile smartphones to pay for goods in shops and use transactional QR codes placed across web sites, in adverts and mother marketing material to redeem loyalty points, discounts and to pay for goods.
A free iPhone or Android app must be downloaded by customers as part of a one-off registration process, which involves sharing their card details, delivery address and so forth. Purchases can then be made at participating retailers by entering Simply Tap codes in as per the marketing material.
The addition of Visa to the scheme will give it much needed impetuous and scale, and allow the MMN app to better compete with Barclaycard and Orange’s QuickTap stored value MCP scheme which was launched nationwide in the UK beforehand and already has a strong position. The more sophisticated m-wallet, customer loyalty elements and use of transactional QR codes in the rival Simply Tap system give it a good chance of catching up.
Commenting on its acquisition of a 15% stake in MMN, Peter Ayliffe, the chief executive of Visa Europe, said: says: "By 2020, we predict that more than half of all our transactions will be carried out on a mobile device. Our investment in the Mobile Money Network will support our aim to deliver a wide range of secure and reliable mobile payment services that help our members tap into the potential of m-commerce."
By Neil Ainger