Eight months after giving the Project Oscar mobile commerce initiative a new name Weve and a new mission in the U.K., the telco joint venture has given its first hints of launching a Near Field Communication mobile payments service.
Weve CEO David Sear predicted a mobile payments launch in 2014 in an interview with the London-based Financial Times, setting a timeframe for the first time on the mobile wallet and payment phase of Weve's mobile commerce service.
"We want to be mass market straight away, which means at least 50% of consumers by the end of next year," Sear states in the article. Weve did not respond to PaymentsSource inquiries prior to deadline.
After a year of dealing with European Commission scrutiny over anti-trust allegations, the major telcos involved Vodafone UK, Everything Everywhere and Telefonica O2 UK announced late last year that their venture would put payments on hold to instead concentrate on establishing a mobile advertising system.
Sear came on board as CEO around the same time, and his addition suggested that Weve would soon revisit its roots as a mobile payments system. Sear spent six years at Travelex as a manager of global business payments. In addition, he previously worked for the U.K. payment services company Voca and the processor WorldPay, an online payments firm, according to the Weve website.
"We don't have crystal balls about what exactly Weve will do next," says Zil Bareisis, a London-based senior analyst for research firm Celent. "But we can hope to try to clear up what is currently a muddy picture for mobile payments."
Weve has described plans to establish a single platform across the largest U.K. mobile networks for consumers using smartphones with built-in Near Field Communication chips for contactless payments.
It has been difficult to determine what kind of traction Weve has been gaining in the U.K., mainly because its business-to-business mobile advertising platform hasn't produced in a consumer-facing product as of yet, Bareisis says.
"Weve is not like Isis (the U.S. telco mobile pay venture) at this point," Bareisis says. "It is very much B2B for merchant interaction with a bank or mobile network, with Weve being the engine for their offers."
However, Weve may introduce a consumer-facing product that would avoid "a key battleground" about which application a consumer would use to access wallet credentials on the phone's SIM card, Bareisis says.
"It sounds as if Weve will allow consumers to decide which mobile wallet they want to use, meaning they could use a bank app or a mobile operator app," Bareisis says.