Card rejected: O2 closes Wallet service

The service was thought to have experienced low adoption rates, but it’s unclear why, in that case, O2 didn’t nurse it along until it could move the customers to its other mobile wallet initiative, Weve (as in “we’ve got a nice little mobile wallet service for you to try?”). Weve is a joint venture with Vodafone and EE.

The answer is probably that the number of users was so dire O2 couldn’t justify anything other than immediate closure. Best to come clean and admit defeat. It will close on March 31st this year.

The service started life in April 2012 and allows subscribers to manage money stored on a prepaid visa debit card - it’s first version had no NFV and operated more like PayPal than anything else (see - O2 breaks ranks, gets its wallet out and goes OTT). Since then others have introduced NFV-driven services.

But the closure, though probably a brave move, does call into question yet again whether the mobile wallet concept as currently mooted will fly at all. There are lots of schemes and lots of corporate egos involved in them.

In particular, each of the main stakeholder industry groupings - banks, telcos, handset vendors/platform providers are convinced that the emerging sector (if emerging it is) should naturally be dominated by them. In that circumstance it’s hard to get retailers to invest in any necessary POS equipment and much harder to get end users signed up, since from the user perspective there are not enough outlets supporting a particular hardware approach to make it viable.

Whether a highly visible failure or two will be enough to galvanise the industries involved into forging a joint approach remains to be seen.

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