UK networks come together for NFC system

We have seen two networks dipping their toes in the water already, but soon, all the major networks (with the exception of Three) will be teaming up for an open platform to run an NFC payment system.

It makes sense, not least in terms of infrastructure and cost, as well as ease of use for mobile users and retailers. Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile and Orange (under their Everything Everywhere banner) have come together, alongside the UK banking sector, for 'the rapid development and delivery of new mobile marketing and payment services'. In short, we've got the phone technology, now we need a system for contactless payments up and running quickly to make the most if it.

It should mean the system goes from being niche to mainstream much more quickly, with a more diverse range of products and services being available in more outlets. It's also set to be paired up with a system of promotional offers if you want them. Not sure where to eat in your town of choice? There's likely to be a voucher/discount or two to tempt you to participating restaurants and takeaways via your GPS-enabled handset. The supermarkets already offer deals based on previous purchases. Expect much more of that, using data from your mobile, as long as you give the 'OK'.

Commenting on the agreement, Tom Alexander, CEO of Everything Everywhere said: 'This groundbreaking new business will unlock the true potential of commerce in the wire-free world. The benefits will be felt across the whole industry, allowing people to manage their money and make payments using their handsets, helping advertisers reach their customers on the move, and helping banks provide their clients with an easy and convenient way of making payments.'

Guy Laurence, CEO of Vodafone UK added: 'Currently people take their mobile, wallet and keys when they leave home. In the near future, people will now start leaving their wallet at home, and in the mid-term their keys may also be integrated into their mobile as NFC allows the mobile to act as a digital access card. The joint venture is the next phase in realising that ambition.'

It's all on course for a 2011 launch. When it does launch, think very carefully about where you leave your mobile phone. Especially if you have transferred your 'entire physical wallet into a new secure, SIM-based wallet', something that the new system will offer.

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