Vodafone will broaden its mobile commerce portfolio by taking a controlling stake in the mobile coupon service Vouchercloud. This deal will see the operator move to compete more effectively with subscriber loyalty schemes as seen with O2 UK's Priority Moments.
Vodafone did not disclose the financial details of the deal or when Vouchercloud would be integrated into its m-commerce services.
The Vouchercloud service offers discounts, codes and vouchers for a range of major retailers by using a smartphone's GPS system to locate nearby deals. A voucher can be downloaded onto a device with a single key press and shown to a sales assistant to redeem the discount.
The operator said it will increase its present 21 per cent holding in Invitation Digital Limited (IDL), the parent of Vouchercloud, to 57 per cent with a first option to boost this level in the future.
Vodafone said it plans to work with IDL to expand Vouchercloud into more countries beyond the UK and Ireland in the near-term, and would look to integrate the voucher service with its other m-commerce offerings.
"Mobile couponing is set to grow rapidly across Vodafone's businesses as cost-conscious consumers increasingly turn to their smartphones to hunt for bargains and collect loyalty points," Tobin Ireland, Vodafone group commercial development director, said in a statement. . "We look forward to working more closely with Vouchercloud in future as m-commerce services become ever more central to consumers' daily lives."
Informa Telecoms & Media analyst Guillermo Escofet said that Vodafone's decision reflects how central offers have become to operators' mobile advertising and marketing strategies.
"With rival U.K. operator O2 having built up a 10-million strong community of subscribers opted in to receive offers under the O2 More service, and rival carrier group Deutsche Telekom having struck a partnership with daily-deals site Groupon in January, Vodafone doesn't want to be left behind."
Vouchercloud worked closely with Orange UK last year and reported hitting two million downloads on smartphones using either Android and iOS, according to The Next Web.
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