O2 Buys Weve, Ends Telco JV’s M-Payment Plans (May 7, 2015)
Weve, the U.K. telco-led mobile wallet joint venture of O2, Vodafone and EE, this week announced another major reorganization, abandoning its earlier mobile payments ambitions to focus on mobile advertising, under the sole ownership of O2. The move marks another example of the challenges competitors face in building cooperative ecosystems to support mobile payments, observers say. “This demonstrates yet again how hard it is to make the industry consortia model [for mobile payments] work,” Zilvinas Bareisis, a senior analyst with Celent, tells Paybefore.
Bareisis notes some parallel themes between the fate of Weve’s mobile payments plans and the February demise of Softcard, an NFC-based mobile wallet venture launched in 2010 by U.S. telcos AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon. Softcard rolled out nationally in 2013, but struggled to gain broad consumer adoption and folded early this year. Google Inc. in February purchased Softcard, integrating its technology and intellectual property into Google Wallet. Finding a business model that works for all parties—including rivals—has proven difficult for other types of businesses, including retailers and banks, Bareisis notes.
Weve’s exit from mobile payments is not wholly unexpected—the venture has undergone more than one reboot since its formation in 2012. Originally called Oscar, the venture adopted a new name in 2013 and last year announced a network partnership. But Weve never got beyond the planning stage for a mobile payments service, instead emphasizing mobile marketing opportunities. O2, which also shuttered its own mobile wallet in early 2014, bought out its Weve partners for an undisclosed sum and plans to use its platform to develop mobile advertising and marketing services for an audience reaching more than 33 million consumers, the company said.
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