Everything Everywhere (EE) struck an exclusive five-year deal with MasterCard that will see the giant credit card company build a mobile payments system for the operator's 27 million UK subscribers.
The two firms have agreed initially to develop a co-branded pre-paid NFC m-payments system, enabling Orange and T-Mobile customers to make contactless payments at more than 100,000 UK retailers.
While EE and MasterCard have not released a launch date for this NFC service, they say that other features will follow shortly after this first release. These additional services will include person-to-person money transfers, loyalty rewards and digital payment services that will enable consumers to have the same shopping experience whether they're paying in-store, online or using their mobile device.
MasterCard has been working with EE's Orange brand for the past three years, and has partnered on the launch of the "Orange Quick Tap" contactless payments scheme launched in the UK last June. This latest move into person-to-person payments is seen as an attempt to compete with Telefónica's O2 UK and its Barclays Pingit and loyalty rewards scheme, according to Marketing Magazine.
Commenting on the new initiative, EE CMO Gerry McQuade said: "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."
More than a year ago, O2, EE and Vodafone announced the formation of a joint mobile payment service, codenamed Project Oscar, to hasten the adoption of mobile money services. However, the joint venture is now the subject of an anti-competition investigation by the European Commission, over concerns it could smother innovation, with the ruling expected soon, according to Marketing Magazine.
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