O2 will back the launch of its mobile payment system, O2 Wallet, with a multimillion pound marketing campaign as the communications company looks to steal a march in the UK on rivals such as Google and Barclays.
The multifunctional app launches today (26 April) and allows users to transfer from £1 to £500 to other mobiles using “digitised” money from their debit and credit cards.
It also acts as a shopping comparison tool by including a barcode scanner to enable users to scan products, find where from the 100 retailers O2 has signed deals with it is cheapest and buy it from their site.
It does not, however, allow users to buy directly using their phone. Near Field Communications (NFC), the technology enabling phones to be used as contactless payment devices, “will come” in the near future, according to James Le Brocq, managing director of the O2 Money division overseeing the launch.
Contactless options have been limited to date with only a handful of mobile operators offering NFC-ready devices and only a limited number of retailers such as Waitrose and McDonald’s hosting terminals.
Le Brocq adds that services such as Wallet could pave the way for faster NFC take-up by “educating consumers about making payments in a secure fashion with a mobile.”
A social media, text, email and in-store campaign targeting O2 customers will launch this week followed by an above the line campaign in June. Le Brocq told Marketing Week that the advertisements would “underpin the innovative nature” of the Wallet.
The app can be downloaded for free by anyone with a smartphone on any network. There is, however, the “option to charge” for money transfers in the future, the company says.
O2 will receive affiliates commission from retail partners, however. It will also sell spots to retailers, such as launch partners Tesco and Debenhams, for special offers.
The company is the latest to launch mobile phone payment services but the first to offer a multifunctional app in the UK.
Barclays launched Pingit, which allows customers to send and receive money via mobile, using only phone numbers and not bank details, earlier this year.
Google is expected to launch its own wallet service in the UK later this year. The US service includes NFC contactless payment technology.