Light Reading

Euronews: O2 UK Shuts Its Mobile Wallet

Paul Rainford
1/10/2014
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Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: 4G's flying in France; Telkom wields the jobs axe; smartphones, tablets boost online shopping.

  • Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2) is to close its "mobile wallet" smartphone-based payments system, from March 31. O2 was one of the first to enter the mobile wallet fray when it launched the service 18 months ago in combination with Visa and others, but, as it says in a statement on its website, "Since then lots has changed for us, the market and our customers. So, we've decided to close the O2 Wallet to give us time to look into new and better ways to help people manage their money on the move, both in the UK and abroad." (See O2 Names Mobile Wallet Partners.)

  • 4G whizz! Earlier this week UK operator EE announced that it had surpassed the 2 million mark in terms of 4G customers, and now, according to a Reuters report, it seems the French are mad for 4G too, with Orange (NYSE: FTE), SFR , and Bouygues Telecom all claiming to have 1 million punters signed up to their respective 4G services. Cut-price rival Free Mobile , however, remained coy about its 4G numbers. (See Euronews: EE Hits 2M Mark With 4G, Free Disrupts French Mobile Market.)

  • South Africa's Telkom SA Ltd. (NYSE/Johannesburg: TKG) is planning to fire up to 1,000 managers and an unspecified number of lower-level workers as part of cost-cutting measures instigated by CEO Sipho Maseko, reports Bloomberg. Apparently, free bottled water and Christmas parties for employees are also on the kill list.

  • The growing influence of smartphones and tablets has been clearly demonstrated in figures produced by the British Retail Consortium, which found a year-on-year 19.2% increase in December online shopping purchases in the UK, reports the BBC. Considering this Interweb shopping thing has been around for some time now, that's a heck of a rise.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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    Phil_Britt
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    Phil_Britt,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    1/10/2014 | 10:59:48 AM
    Re: Sign of things to come?
    One of the mobile payments analysts I talked to recently called Isis DOA. That could be a little drastic. I would think Isis would try to find a partner (MCX?) before scrapping the idea altogether.
    SarahReedy
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    SarahReedy,
    User Rank: Blogger
    1/10/2014 | 10:55:41 AM
    Re: Sign of things to come?
    That was my first thought too. I won't be surprised on the day we hear Isis is shutting down or drastically changing its strategy.
    SarahReedy
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    SarahReedy,
    User Rank: Blogger
    1/10/2014 | 10:54:49 AM
    Re: Empty wallet
    This wasn't a Telefonica Digital initiative, was it? Its whole MO is to test things out and not be overly attached to their success, but O2 doesn't operate that way as much. I'm not surprised people don't want a wallet from their operator, but it's too bad as this was heralded as an early example of an operator doing it well.
    Phil_Britt
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    Phil_Britt,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    1/10/2014 | 10:39:04 AM
    Sign of things to come?
    Interesting that Telefonica shut its mobile wallet. Wonder if this forecasts some future problems for the ISIS venture in the U.S. I've talked to a few financial services analysts who don't expect ISIS to survive long-term because they see issues with its business model and security.
    mendyk
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    mendyk,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    1/10/2014 | 10:00:45 AM
    Empty wallet
    Is there a life lesson for network operators in Telefonica O2's decision to scrap the digital wallet program?
    PaulERainford
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    PaulERainford,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    1/10/2014 | 9:10:21 AM
    Tablets go shopping
    Just as a side comment to the above, the same British Retail Consortium figures found that overall UK retail sales only rose 0.4% year-on-year in December - which serves to underline the huge impact smartphone/tablet-driven online shopping is making.
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