Weve, the B2B m-commerce venture set up by the UK’s three largest mobile operators, will be delivering SMS-based advertising to customers of O2 and Everything Everywhere – the first step to becoming fully operational – by the end of 2012. Third partner Vodafone’s customers will come on board early in 2013.
The next stage is the launch of mobile display advertising in mid-2013 along with coupons, loyalty and offers. A mobile wallet is also mooted for 2013. But a NFC-based service is at least 12 months away.
“The ultimate vision is getting everything into a NFC phone in a NFC wallet and tap the phone once to redeem your coupon, make payment and get loyalty points. That’s the vision,” says Tony Moretta, a director of Weve, in an interview with Mobile World Live.
But Weve has been held back from working on its NFC-based systems by the wait for EC regulatory clearance. It also has technical obstacles to overcome. The venture has to integrate its shareholders’ existing platforms, each of which is from a different TSM supplier, into its own system. The three vendors concerned are Gemalto, Giesecke & Devrient and Overture.
Weve also wants to offer portability so that subscribers can switch between operators without having to upload their debit and credit cards again to their mobile wallet, which further adds to its workload.
“The issue with NFC and the reason it is further down our roadmap, and I think it is at least 12 months away, is about having a single point of integration so we will connect our systems with MNOs; that’s time consuming because a common theme of a lot of stuff we have been working on is a real limit about what we could until we got [EC] clearance in September,” says Moretta.
Weve’s whole strategy is about being “a single point of contact,” whereby an advertising agency or a bank, for instance, can reach customers of the three operators with one technical implementation, rather than three.
By early next year, the three operators will offer a combined base of 15 million subscribers to potential advertisers or other partners. This is the figure for subscribers who have opted in to receive marketing messages rather than the operator’s total bases.
Weve hopes to offer scale as well as the ability to launch services more quickly in response to OTT players such as Google.
Moretta gives the example of how, currently, a bank would need 12 months to connect to one mobile operator at the cost of £10 million. The idea is that the bank will integrate with Weve which will in turn handle the three operator’s systems.