Mobile network provider, O2, has launched a new, 'Mobile Wallet' app that will allow users to make payments and transfers of up to £500 to any UK mobile number, using either a pre-paid visa card or attached bank account, with the app also enabling easy product price comparisons.
O2 has confirmed that payment, through this method, has already been accepted by more than 100 retailers, amongst who are Comet, Debenhams, Sainsbury's Direct and Tesco Direct. Whilst O2 currently has 200,000 customers on its network with NFC payment capabilities, with the number expected to increase rapidly over the year, the firm has held off on implementing contactless payments due to a lack of presence of payment terminals.
It's clear that O2, like other providers and banks, wishes to introduce and familiarise customers with the idea of mobile transactions, however, whilst the service is currently free to consumers, the firm plans to charge a 15p fee for each money message/transfer made with the new system.
It appears as though O2 isn't the only network provider that wishes to capitalise on a new payment system, with the firm seemingly only taking this solo initiative due to delays in a joint plan proposed by itself, Vodafone and EverythingEverywhere, to introduce a national mobile payments service in-time for the London Olympics. The hold-up has been caused by an anti-competitive investigation, with smaller firms, such as Three, left out of negotiations over the new standard.
NFC payments and, to a lesser extent, long-range wireless mobile payments, are the future, however the idea of a cost being passed onto the consumer is highly unappealing. This writer hopes that whatever national standard does eventually make it through the gates, it's one that better respects the country's history in battling against bank charges and fees.