Deutsche Telekom has become the latest operator to launch its own mobile wallet service based on near-field communication (NFC) technology, joining a market that is becoming increasingly cluttered and even "messy", in the words of one provider.
The German operator said MyWallet would enable customers to make payments via an Android smartphone that has an NFC-enabled SIM card installed, with 18 devices from Samsung and Sony currently supporting the service. NFC tags also enable other mobile phones to be used for the payments service, including iOS and Windows smartphones.
The first MyWallet service is a payment card, with an introductory bonus of up to €40: the MyWallet Card is a prepaid MasterCard that allows payments at more than 35,000 PayPass merchants throughout Germany and more than 1.6 million merchants worldwide.
Michael Hagspihl, director of marketing at Telekom Deutschland, made it clear that this is just the start, with more services planned for the future.
"Our customers will not only use their digital wallets to make easy, secure payments, but also store concert tickets, membership cards or bonus points," said Hagspihl.
Deutsche Telekom said it plans to launch additional offerings this summer, including a cooperation with retailer Tank und Rast that will enable payments with MyWallet and "other contactless payment systems" at 400 motorway service stations throughout Germany. Starting in June, it will also be possible to store digital coupons from supermarket chains Hit and Edeka using MyWallet.
The operator also plans to launch services via its international subsidiaries: "In Slovakia we will introduce our payment solution mid-May. In Hungary--after a test phase with services like payment and ticketing--a commercial launch is also planned for this year," said Thomas Kiessling, Chief Product & Innovation at Deutsche Telekom.
Deutsche Telekom has previously dipped its toes in NFC payment services along with rival German operators Vodafone Germany and Telefónica Germany: the three operators set up the mPass joint venture in 2011, and continue to offer this service separately from their own offerings.
While NFC operator alliances have been common across Europe in recent years, it's clear that individual operators still want to pursue their own paths. This increasingly fragmented situation prompted David Sear, CEO of the UK mobile payments joint venture Weve, to describe the mobile payments market as "a bit of a mess".
Deutsche Telekom claimed that research has shown mobile payments to be a growth market with a future. It cited a 2012 survey by TNS Infratest that was carried out among 1,000 residents of Germany: two-thirds of those surveyed said mobile payments would become established, and 38 per cent believed that mobile payments would become part of our everyday lives within three years.
- see this Deutsche Telekom release
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