Vodafone plans to launch a mobile wallet service that would allow customers to make everyday transactions such as making payments and collecting loyalty points directly from their mobile phones.
The UK-based company is set to launch an NFC-enabled mobile wallet next year.
The mobile operator on Friday announced plans to roll out the NFC-enabled Vodafone Wallet, which is capable of housing a number of different apps, across Europe. The UK launch is expected in spring next year.
The apps, which could be downloaded by users, include a store card app, which could then be housed within the wallet, and accessed by swiping over an appropriate terminal. For example, the first app that would be available for the service is the Vodafone SmartPass app, which has been developed in conjunction with Visa. The app would be loaded with funds, which customers could use for making payments by swiping it at Visa terminals.
According to Vodafone, it was working with major European banks to integrate their card portfolios into the wallet. The service would also be made available to other organizations, including retailers and travel companies.
The service would be supported by NFC-enabled devices manufactured by Samsung, Sony, HTC and others. Vodafone said that users' personal details, such as payment information, would be stored on their SIM card, providing extra security.
Meanwhile, Vodafone Spain has become the first operator in Spain to launch an NFC-powered mobile wallet service that allows customers to pay for goods and services with a touch or wave of their smart phone. The Vodafone Wallet app could also hold travel cards, library or gym membership cards, loyalty cards, gift cards and vouchers, aimed at eventually replacing plastic cards.
The service would be limited to NFC-capable smart phones from Samsung, Sony and HTC to start with, but plans are afoot to expand the range rapidly in 2014.
According to Vodafone, customers not having a compatible NFC phone could apply for an NFC tag to stick to the back of their handset for use in conjunction with the SmartPass app.
Currently, the app is available only on Android via Vodafone Updates and customers who installed it on their phones need to enter a password and provide their Visa card number before being allowed to use the service at 300,000-plus locations in Spain and 1.2 million in Europe.
The service is set for launch in Germany in mid-December and would be expanded to the Netherlands, UK and Italy in spring 2014. Vodafone has also been working with major European banks for integrating their card portfolios into the wallet.