O2 shuts down mobile wallet

O2 shuts down mobile wallet

UK wireless operator O2 is to discontinue its mobile wallet eighteen months after it was officially launched.

The O2 wallet functionality included P2P payments, barcode searches for online price comparison shopping, daily discounts from major retailers (including Debenhams, Comet, Sainsbury's Direct, and Tesco Direct), debit card and cash onboarding, and a Visa pre-paid card for online and high street shopping.

In a statement on the O2 Money Website, the mobile operator says: "When we launched the O2 Wallet 18 months ago we were one of the first mobile wallets around. Since then lots has changed for us, the market and our customers. So, we've decided to close the O2 Wallet to give us time to look into new and better ways to help people manage their money on the move, both in the UK and abroad."

The telco has not released any figures regarding customer numbers or transaction volumes for the Wallet during its eighteen-month lifetime.

Users will need to empty their wallets by 31 March when the account will be officially suspended.

Comments: (9)

Matt Scott
Matt Scott - RenovITe Technologies Inc - London 09 January, 2014, 20:511 like 1 like

Sad demise - the Prepaid Card product existed before this but was relaunched 18 months ago alongside the partner Wallet Application.  I'd see this as a precursor for adopting a mobile wallet offering from WEVE (a JV company of which Telefonica/O2 are one of the major partners).

Contrary to the information detailed in the article Cardholders will have any remainder left on their account refunded via cheque post 31st March 2014.

Tim Tyler
Tim Tyler - Misys - London 10 January, 2014, 09:491 like 1 like

@Matt: "Cardholders will have any remainder left on their account refunded via cheque". (my highlight)

Need I say more?

Matt Scott
Matt Scott - RenovITe Technologies Inc - London 10 January, 2014, 10:38Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes Did I suggest the use of cheques - no. I was merely highlighting that remainder balances will be returned to customers. Use of cheques for this purpose is standard practice in this scenario as there isn't a viable alternative (Cardholders may not have registered bank account and sort code data with the issuer so Faster Payments/BACS is not an all encompassing option to solve the refund repayment issue).
Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 10 January, 2014, 16:50Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

If not bank accounts, mobile wallet customers have to have registered their credit or debit or prepaid cards with the mobile wallet provider, otherwise what funding method would the mobile wallet use? Refunds could be made electronically but they are being made via paper cheques.

If wannable cash- and cheque-killers like mobile wallets themselves have to use cheques, why won't the common man? This explains why mobile wallets are dying. If this is what @TimT meant by his emphasis on cheque, I fully agree.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 12 January, 2014, 11:18Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Dear Sirs,

perhaps the use of cheques as repayment method is due to the fact that the repayment does not happen until the customer has presented the cheque for clearance. Customers with smaller amounts on their accounts may not bother - and thus the operator saves money.

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 12 January, 2014, 11:47Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

@AFinextraMember: One more advantage of cheques, I guess! Just joking, since most accounting standards - including GAAP - require a company to make a provision for the cheque amount in its books of accounts as soon as it issues a cheque, so there might really be no such advantage. 

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 12 January, 2014, 14:23Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Dear Sirs

When the cheque validity period is exhausted, the issuer can reebook the amount into profits! So - in many cases where companies have overcharged customers and get a court order to repay to customers, they are not allowed to use another means, instead they need to use the same payment method that was originally used. If a card payment - they need to credit the card, if a transfer, they need to make a transfer... I guess that O2 wallet did not top up via cheques - so why use them now?

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 15 January, 2014, 15:17Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Odd that the demise of a Mobile wallet brings up a lively discussion around cheque use.

Interestingly - Cheque clearing is now moving towards Mobile phone enabled image capture and presentment in the UK.  A recent C&CCC newsletter highlighted not only the continuing poplularity of the cheque as a payment instrument,  but also that cheque clearing via mobile phone image capture and transmission was on its way to the UK.  Mobile phone  cheque (check) image capture services have existed in the USA for some time now. 

Evolution - not revolution may be the order of the day cash as cheque volumes continue to fall but persist. Could O2 Wallet refund cheques be cleared using Mobile Cheque image capture - we will see?

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 15 January, 2014, 15:55Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

@AFinextraMember: From personal experience, the payer is obliged to issue a new cheque if the older cheque has expired before being cashed. IMHO, rebooking profits might not be so straight forward. 

@DavidA: I'm sure O2's refund cheque can be processed via Mobile RDC. The very fact that we're asking what-if questions about cheques and mobile even in the context of mobile wallet is adequate testimony that Mobile RDC solves a real pain point. No wonder it's one of the few killer mobile banking apps in USA and I'm sure it will become one in UK as well!