Telefonica unveils Yaap as brand name for Spanish mobile payments venture

Telefónica revealed that its landmark joint venture with Spanish banks CaixaBank and Banco Santander will be named Yaap, and that the first services will be launched in Spain in a matter of months.

The Spanish joint venture is preparing to offer a shopping service that will connect stores to consumers, and a peer-to-peer money transfer service using mobile devices.

Telefónica said Yaap Shopping will benefit small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that currently have limited online presence and are seeking to add digital elements to their business, including customer discounts, offers, and loyalty programs.

Yaap Money, meanwhile, will be available to all consumers, regardless of which bank or mobile operator they use.

The three companies said Yaap is the first direct tie-up between a telecoms operator and banks in Europe. The planned launch of services comes nearly a year after the trio first detailed plans to form the joint venture, and follows clearance for the venture by the European Commission in August.

At the time, the Commission noted the joint venture faced adequate competition from several digital wallet providers and well-established global companies including Google and Yahoo. It added that there is limited overlap in the provision of digital advertising services between Telefónica and the joint venture.

Telefónica previously said Yaap would initially target 600,000 businesses in Spain, but has ambitions to expand the service internationally by leveraging the three parent companies' huge global presence.

The GSM Association reported in February that mobile money services are growing rapidly, with 24 million new users accessing services in the year to end-June 2013. The bulk of those services, however, are in emerging markets with high numbers of 'unbanked' consumers--people with no bank account.

In mature European markets, analysts believe operators must partner with banks and other financial services providers in order to make mobile money services a success.

High-profile deals agreed so far include a tie-up between Deutsche Telekom and MasterCard for mobile payment services. Weve, a mobile payments joint venture of Vodafone UK, EE and O2 UK, has also partnered with MasterCard.

Orange meanwhile has teamed with Visa to launch Orange Cash, a prepaid NFC service available in France. Vodafone also recently announced the European debut of its successful M-Pesa money transfer service, which previously had only been available in emerging markets.

For more:
- see Telefónica's announcement

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