Santander, CaixaBank, and Telefónica Launch Digital JV in Spain

31 May 2013

A joint venture between Santander, CaixaBank and Telefónica, which owns O2 in the UK and many other mobile network operators (MNOs) around the world, has been formed to develop a range of mobile financial services in the firms’ home Spanish market, including a mobile wallet with loyalty points and other incentives. A rollout elsewhere in the world is likely if the project is successful, particularly in south America where the banks have strong overseas operations.

The Spanish-owned banks and the MNO still require the joint venture (JV) to be approved by authorities in Spain, but are confident this will not be a problem.

The planned digital wallet will let customers keep all their cards in one place on a mobile phone and can act as an identification device in shops and for online purchases. A peer-to-peer (P2P) mobile m-payments feature will also enable users to send money to their friends using only their mobile number, aping the Pingit system operated by Barclays in the UK. The initial launch of the JV, however, will be an online website and community of consumers attracted by loyalty points, discounts and other promotions. Once a community is established – along the lines of Groupon – then the digital wallet will be added as an end point device, bringing together an holistic community in the manner of Weve in the UK, although there is no schedule provided for this development.

Commenting on the launch, José María Álvarez-Pallete, chief executive officer (CEO) of Telefónica, said: "Digital technologies are transforming how consumers research products and then identify the best prices, promotions or discounts. This joint venture combines the partners' technical and financial services expertise to create an ecosystem for the benefit of both retailers and consumers."

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