O2 reports mobile wallet trial success

September 3, 2016

A London trial of mobile payments by O2 found that paying for goods by mobile phone is popular with customers, but a number of obstacles need to be overcome before paying by mobile becomes mainstream.

O2 revealed yesterday that almost 80% of 500 participants in the six month trial enjoyed using near field communications (NFC) technology to pay for goods and services.

O2 commissioned specially adapted Nokia phones for the trial, loaded with £200 by O2 which was used by participants to pay for public transport journeys and goods in certain stores.

NFC, also known as ‘mobile wallet’ technology, allows phone users to pay for goods by touching their mobile phone against a payment reader, similar to the way in which Oyster cards are used on London transport.

Clare Maslen, head of NFC operations at O2, said the trials proved the technology was ‘hugely popular’, but added that it is difficult to predict whether or not the technology will become mainstream.

Several trials in Europe have already proved successful, and mobile users in Japan have been able to pay for products using their phone for years.

However, mobile commerce accounts for less than 1% of retail sales in Japan, with users unwilling to pay more for products using their phone than they would pay using a credit card.

Security is another key issue to be overcome, with O2 readily admitting that the convenience of a mobile wallet means compromising on security.

According to Maslen, a full roll-out of NFC technology would take years, and would need the backing of at least 2-3 big retailers as well as support from all mobile phone networks.

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