Vodafone gets out its wallet

Dec 13, 2013

But some see the pace quickening in Europe in 2014. Last month Vodafone announced a contactless mobile wallet service rollout across Europe in conjunction with Visa. Spain was launched immediately, Netherlands, Italy and the UK are promised for the Spring of 2014 and Germany in mid December which is now and has just happened.

Dusseldorf was chosen for the launch because there are around 800 acceptance points there already. Yes, the Vodafone service relies on NFC and, no, of course not every phone (in fact not many phones) yet have NFC built in. No matter, there’s a sort of glide path with what Vodafone calls a “flexible range of services comprising NFC SIM cards and stickers, every mobile phone can be fitted with the contactless function."

If there’s no NFC available at point of sale, of course, users can just revert back to using a prepayment Visa card which everyone using the service also gets.

I suppose I might see tap and pay as a useful addition to my smartphone’s duties at some point, but I still feel that if NFC comes in, it will be because of all sorts of other use cases which involve physical proximity and authentication, especially for Internet of Things applications we’ve yet to think of. (see - When lost property becomes public property).

Once there are enough of those for NFC to be thought of mandatory for a phone (as Bluetooth has become, for instance) then it might be that mobile wallet will gradually lift off.

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