Today, three CEOs of the UK top mobile operators shared their view on Weve. Let's get it straight from the horse's mouth.
The use of smartphones to "shop with and buy everyday items instead of credit and debit cards" was singled out as a major opportunity for brands. The operators were referring to consumer brands there, yet the only brands relevant to payments are Visa, MasterCard,
Amex and the banks - who were not invited to the party...
Vodafone: "Every single phone coming out of the production line regardless of manufacturer, by and large, by this [end of] year will be NFC-enabled." Even if we leave the product portfolio aspect of that statement aside, why is that relevant? To turn all
those NFC phones into payment devices, operators would need to open up access to SIM cards (i.e. secure elements). Which they are only prepared to do on the terms unacceptable to the banks. Ditto.
O2: "Our customers will value their relationship with us by the access we afford them." Access to what? Castrated phones? Eye-watering roaming charges? Walled garden?
Speaking of the latter, O2 suggested that "the one insight we all had at the start is, we can fight over a small piece of cake, but why not make a big pie and then we can all compete happily for a big slice of it…" What Ronan Dunne forgot to add was
"we, the top tier mobile operators".
Vodafone: "Weve is positioned as a single door for advertisers." We can guess who will be the doormat... I even coined a new word for that - "pesterizing" (annoying pestering of consumers by mind-numbing advertising and irrelevant offers).
Speaking of pesterising, sorry advertising, Vodafone said that "we have re-orientated our businesses to get the very necessary opt-ins from our customer bases." Thank you, thank you, thank you. What made you "re-orientate", by the way? And even after that
re-orientation, how many irrelevant offers should one receive before the last person leaves the room through that "single door"...
"We have spent a lot of time with lawyers to make sure Weve and the team can really execute ideas with minimal intervention from our side." Perhaps they should have spent more time with all those companies they forgot to invite to the party. Like Three.
And Google. And Apple. And me (just kidding).
My wife told me not to use the phrase "delusional megalomaniacs" in this post, so I won't (not that I intended to). I guess saying "anti-competitive cartel" instead is OK then. Let's ask a simple question: was Weve formed to make our lives better or to attempt
to allow just three companies to make more money?..
To make a big pie, one needs to bring to the table value, not control. And that table has to be open to all members of the ecosystem. Eating the pie alone behind the high wall could make one choke, by biting more than one can chew.