MasterCard has finalised a five-year deal with Everything Everywhere (the joint venture between France Telecom’s Orange and T-Mobile) to develop mobile payment solutions, with a “co-branded, prepaid solution for mobile devices” enabling contactless NFC payments.
Further plans for the co-operation include loyalty rewards, money transfers and other as yet unspecified elements. This deal follows on the heels of the MasterCard / Deutsche Telekom deal that was made a few months back (read more here) covering Germany and Eastern Europe.
“Our vision is of a world beyond cash and the phone is a key tool to driving this step-change. As the sophistication of smartphones continues to evolve, and the mobile payments ecosystem starts to open up, I believe that people will use their mobile phones in lieu of a traditional wallet and start making higher-end purchases, such as white goods or even cars, all through their phones,”said Marion King, president of MasterCard UK & Ireland.
Some observers have postulated that Orange Cash, currently a prepaid MasterCard, could become an on-device option for Everything Everywhere customers who want to use their mobiles to pay for goods and could also work with embedded NFC chips within NFC-enabled handsets.
Future predictions aside, the current deal will allow Everything Everywhere customers to use their mobiles to make payments at 100,000 retailers around Britain, but it will soon expand to allow customers to send money to each other or use their mobiles for shopping online. MasterCard will provide the network for the financial transaction, while Everything Everywhere will provide the network delivering other kinds of secure non-transactional payment details.
“By moving our existing co-branded card offers onto mobile devices, we are closer to a world where our customers will be able to use their phone to pay for travel to work, pay for small purchases and take advantage of loyalty rewards from their favourite retail outlets,” said Gerry McQuade, CMO at Everything Everywhere.
However, the deal is likely to concern rivals such as Vodafone and O2 which had been hoping to launch a mobile payments service with Everything Everywhere. The three mobile operators said in June last year that they wanted to form a joint-venture company that would accelerate the roll-out of payments and advertising on mobile devices. The scheme – dubbed Project Oscar – aimed to develop a single set of technical standards to enable mobile payments on all networks and devices, and act as a single sales agent to advertisers, banks and retailers that wanted to launch new products. However, the project has been repeatedly delayed by regulators. Everything Everywhere’s decision to strike a new partnership with MasterCard will help it get a mobile payments project under way, regardless of what its rivals are doing.
Within the news release, MasterCard and Everything Everywhere say that this co-branded prepaid solution using NFC will be “one of the first products to launch through the partnership”. If the service works and finds its feet, it could end up being the first wide-scale mobile NFC solution in the UK.
MasterCard notes that there are already 100,000 retailers equipped to take contactless payments already in the UK. Last year, between the UK and France, Orange says it sold some 500,000 NFC-equipped devices and that the number is likely to be significantly higher this year as the number of NFC-equipped handsets has grown.