'Mobile wallet will be a reality this year'
O2 Media confirmed that the 'mobile wallet' will launch in the second half of this year at MediaTel Group's Retail and Media event on Wednesday, in association with O2.
On the panel, O2 Media's managing director Shaun Gregory (pictured) revealed that the operators are at the "planning before launch stage" of their joint venture. O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere are working together to provide a single point of contact for advertisers, banks and retailers.
The 'wallet' will take the form of a smartphone app and will enable contactless-payments through partner banks, as well as send users offers and vouchers from advertisers.
Gregory described the wallet as "a seamless experience through mobile" and quoted Google's Eric Schmidt as saying he expects it to be a 'trillion dollar industry'.
Credit card players are also involved in the mobile money venture, according to Gregory, who said that "the curtains will open in the second half of this year". According to Gregory, the "consumer will decide who wins".
He expects the service to be "adopted faster than people think" and confirmed that "there has been lots of investment into it".
However, Claire Valoti, head of display & mobile at Mindshare, said that whilst there was no apparent consumer need for it in the UK, the big players have invested to create a customer need. However, she added that it "is a logistical nightmare for retailers".
"Operators are working in a collaborative way, which is good, but how we do it is key," she added. "The players need to get it right for the consumer - there is a lot of pressure on operators."
Meanwhile, Harriet Williams, head of digital development at Debenhams, said a digital wallet needs to add value if it is going to work - "there needs to be an added benefit for the consumer".
Eventually, Gregory sees mobile being able "to organise everything for the consumer". He talked of having credit cards, loyalty cards, receipts and so on being "dropped" into the mobile wallet to simplify the customer experience.