Three of the UK’s biggest operators, Everything Everywhere, Telefonica UK (O2) and Vodafone UK have announced they are to form a mobile marketing and payments Joint Venture.  The JV is to provide the start-up investment to create a single ‘ecosystem’ for m-commerce.

The benefits of the JV should be three fold, retailers and advertisers will have a far easier job at creating m-commerce products. Consumers will be able to take advantage of the NFC enabled phone to transform their phone into a ‘physical wallet’, making mobile payments easy when out and about.  The growing trend of couponing and offers will also benefit from the JV, with the operators hoping to develop a way for consumers to easily access and use coupons directly from their phone. Not only would this add value to consumers it would also be a fantastic development for advertisers in terms of tracking the uptake and reception of the deals they are offering.

It will be interesting to see how the m-commerce platform the JV is hoping to create will integrate into the social media space.  Most Phone manufacturers have put the integration of social tools at the heart of their smartphone developments. If the operators treat the m-commerce platform in the same way this could mean huge developments for social networks also. Will we see an integration of mobile payments into the Facebook deals offering?

One barrier which could slow down early adoption is consumer perceptions of the security around mobile payments.  The concept of being able to pay for something with ‘one touch of their phone’ could be perceived as too easy and therefore unsafe, it could also be quite dangerous in terms of keeping track of spending!

Finally what does this mean for the operators who are not a part of the Joint Venture? Three Mobile have already shown their unhappiness at being excluded from the JV, and depending on uptake, could be detrimental for them.

Guy Laurence, CEO of Vodafone UK, commented today “Currently people take their mobile, wallet and keys when they leave home. In the near future, people will now start leaving their wallet at home, and in the mid term their keys may also be integrated into their mobile as NFC allows the mobile to act as a digital access card. The joint venture is the next phase in realising that ambition.”

With each day, the smartphone market is taking steps encapsulate everything essential you need when out of home and the JV is another step towards making this a reality. What does this mean for the Handbag / Manbag Market?

Read the Press Release