O2’s entry into money market will lead to NFC mobile wallet

17 Feb 2011

Ireland’s second-largest mobile operator Telefónica O2 is bringing out a new money card for consumers that will allow them to buy goods and services in most retail outlets. New CEO Stephen Shurrock says the move is a definitive step in the direction of future e-wallet services.

Shurrock explained to Siliconrepublic.com that the card was developed in partnership with established financial players 3V, Visa and PayZone.

The O2 Money card is available to purchase in O2 stores nationwide by customers of any Irish mobile operator who are over 18 years of age. Customers can top up €20 to €350 per day onto their card which, because it operates on the Visa platform, can be used almost anywhere that accepts electronic Visa payments, at home or abroad, in-store or online.

The card can be used whichever way the customer wants – for everyday purchases, such as groceries in their local supermarket, to purchase clothes or to book flights or concert tickets online. Whenever customers need to top up their O2 Money card they can do so via their internet bank account or in any O2 retail store or in more than 1,500 Payzone outlets across Ireland.

Customers can check their card balance any time by texting Balance followed by a space and the last four digits of their customer number to 50280. Balance alerts are free of charge, whether the O2 Money customer is on the O2 mobile network or another network, or whether they are being sent from home or abroad. Customers can also check all transactions from the previous 12 months online. O2 Money customers will also be able to avail of the other benefits of being an O2 customer, including O2 Treats and Priority Ticketing at The O2.

Aideen Chambers, head of financial services in O2 Ireland, talks about
the O2 Money Card and NFC

The O2 Money Card and NFC – Aideen Chambers, O2 Ireland 

Contactless payments and NFC

Shurrock told Siliconrepublic.com that Telefónica has conducted a trial of near field communication (NFC), with more than 1,500 people in Barcelona.

I put it to him that with contactless payments coming to the Irish market and with the latest Google device the Galaxy Nexus S and the forthcoming iPhone 5 from Apple featuring NFC technology, that the new money service will prepare the mobile operator to be an integral player in the e-wallet space.

“Based on previous experience – we’ve rolled these cards out in a number of places in Europe – this is an exciting development. In terms of NFC, our trials in Barcelona of the technology, where we’ve worked with a number of merchants, lead us to believe this will be a substantial opportunity.

“In fact, I believe we will see NFC sooner than you think – possibly in the next 12 months – but of course the rollout will be selective, based on markets that are ready to receive it.

“The big tipping point for NFC will come with merchants. Once they have the reader technology, it will have a snowball effect. It will come quicker than you think,” Shurrock said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years