The three largest UK mobile phone operators in the UK have announced a joint venture to bring mobile payments to their huge combined userbase. Mobile payment offers consumers a way to pay for goods and services through their mobile phones, with the cost billed as part of their monthly fee.
With mobile phone penetration at over 100% in the UK, it is a fair bet that most people have a phone on them all the time and if mobile payments take off people may no longer need to carry a wallet as well. This isn’t the first time the phone operators have attempted to get mobile payments off the ground (hello M-Pay and SimPay), but with people increasingly seeing smartphones as ultra-portable computers for email, internet, and shopping – O2 (Telefonica), Vodafone, and Everything Everywhere (Orange & T-Mobile) are joining forces with a new unified push to get people using their phones to make payments rather than Visa or Mastercard.
There has always been a standard feature on mobile phone SIM cards called the SIM Application Toolkit (STK) that has enabled mobile-payment to become widely used across Africa and other parts of the world. However the current breed of smartphones do not generally support that part of the GSM standard – neither iOS nor Android offer support – a notable step backwards in many ways.
There are few details on this as of yet, but we’ll keep you updated when we hear some more information.