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Weve is developing a full set of m-payment services

Friday 11 April 2014 | 13:08 CET | Background

The British mobile operators EE, O2 and Vodafone will launch their joint mobile payment services in early 2015 through their joint-venture, Weve. The bureau was established in 2012 and has been quiet for a while, but has announced a series of steps recently. The operators with a combined market share of 80 percent will launch a full suite of services, for merchants, advertisers and consumers.

One is the fact that they’ve joined forces with MasterCard. Under the terms of their agreement, MasterCard will provide technology and integration services to banks and financial institutions wishing to use Weve's payments platform.

The services will be based on the contactless infrastructure that is being rolled out in the UK. Banks have over 36 million contactless cards in circulation and the number of acceptance points is on the rise. Banks that join in will be able to engage with their own customers at the point of sale.

That means using existing contactless platforms and infrastructure, coupled to NFC capable smartphones. Weve will not develop a new payment brand, competing infrastructure or require merchants to invest in new hardware or Point of sale solutions.

Display Advertising

Weve has launched SMS based advertising in mid-2013 and will launch mobile display advertising in April, competing with Google, Apple and Facebook, amongst others. The company says it wants to offer mobile advertising in a different way. 

The Weve Acceptance Network is proposed as the UK’s first major attempt to bring together a set of common ideas and platforms for the loyalty industry, designed to bring clear incentives for all participants to get involved. It’s a set of ‘rails’ for loyalty, offers and other non-payment content, open to everybody.

The Weve Mobile Audience Platform (MAP) will use a proprietary identifier that the company says will help advertisers target users in a reliable and relevant way: by moving away from click-based measurement and into display advertising served to known profiles only.
Weve also says that the user will be identified, not the device, and opt-ins will therefore be specific. Quoting commercial director Nigel Clarkson, Media Week reports that Weve has data on 22 million people out of the 65 million mobile subscribers in total. An estimated 30 million in the UK is the limit to the number of opt-ins.

Mobile loyalty app

The app for consumers, named Pouch, is in limited alpha testing - limited meaning one coffee bar and two EAT lunch stores near the offices. The Pouch app allows users to securely store loyalty cards and relevant brand offers.

Global mobile marketing, loyalty and mobile wallet company Proxama has been selected as partner in the development. Proxama's TapPoint platform will form the technology foundation for Weve's Pouch loyalty service, enabling in-app engagement and loyalty on smartphones at POS in retail stores. The Pouch app has been developed for Android and will also appear for iPhone.

Beacons

Added to that, Weve is conducting a series of trials using Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) devices – known colloquially as beacons or iBeacons. Although developed by Apple, the Bluetooth 4.0 based technology is supported by a growing number of other handsets.
Weve says it’s the first deployment of beacons in the UK – essentially, it is a location signal to their surroundings. That location signal can be used to transmit relevant content to the customer’s app, from special offers to shopping list reminders and other personalised information. With multiple beacons onsite, people can be located very precisely, right into which aisle they’re in.

The news so far seems to indicate that Weve will develop a full set of services to all devices. It utilizes NFC, but it’s not bound by it. The joint venture shuts out mobile operator 3 UK, but has a combined market share of 80 percent. Weve is not directly related to Vodafone SmartPass. This NFC service has been launched in several Vodafone markets (in association with Visa Europe) and Vodafone has said in the past that the service will launch in the UK in the spring.

MasterCard payments

This month, MasterCard has announced that, over a one year period ending December 2013, it has expanded its contactless footprint in Europe by increasing the number of countries where contactless cards are accepted. Contactless cards are now available in 63 countries worldwide, and in 34 countries in Europe including 7 new countries in 2013, including Azerbaijan, Finland, Ireland, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and the Netherlands.

 MasterCard and Maestro contactless cards or devices have been issued by more than 220 financial institutions in Europe and can be used at almost 2 million merchant locations worldwide, representing more than a 180 percent year-on-year increase. MasterCard also reports that the number of contactless transactions across Europe have more than tripled and the volume spent on those transactions has increased four times year-on-year.



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