O2 became the sole owner of Weve, the operator-owned m-commerce firm in the UK that tried and failed to get into mobile payments.
The firm confirmed to Mobile World Live that the transaction was completed. The news was first reported by the Financial Times.
Weve was set up as a joint initiative between the UK’s three leading operators – O2, Vodafone and EE. The idea was to pool subscriber data in a way that was more attractive to potential advertisers.
O2, which is in the process of being bought by Hutchison Whampoa, is now Weve’s sole owner.
The irony is the three partners in Weve did not want Hutchison to join, at least not as a main shareholder. Now, the owner of 3 UK could end up as the firm’s owner.
O2 will operate Weve as a wholly owned subsidiary, according to a source. And it will still give the m-commerce firm access to its contract users, 6 million from its Priority Moments scheme and 14 million that use O2 WiFi.
O2 was seen as the operator who contributed most to Weve’s set-up in terms of customer numbers, so the operator is perhaps the most obvious of the three backers to acquire the business.
However, advertisers might argue that a firm backed by all the UK’s operators might have the best chance of success, providing it could deliver insightful customer data at the right price.
Vodafone and EE have their own mobile payments and advertising initiatives in the UK.
Mobile payments and a wallet service were originally part of the Weve grand plan but were dropped last autumn after the partners reportedly could not agree on a common approach.