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UK operators offer their vision of NFC payments and loyalty

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UK mobile operator joint venture Weve – formed by Vodafone, EE and O2 – has outlined how it sees NFC revolutionising retail with announcements of partnerships with MasterCard to bring NFC mobile payments to a mass market and with Eat to trial iBeacons-based loyalty services.

The announcement with MasterCard – made last week – outlined how the two companies plan to work together to bring the connectivity to end users via Weve an the plumbing to link it and merchants to the banking system via MasterCard.

Details of the plan are outlined here in this exclusive video interview with Marian King, president UK & Ireland, MasterCard and David Sears, CEO, Weve.

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This week Weve announced the loyalty part of the package, launching an app called Pouch that will give brands a single container through that can house and receive offers. Initially, it’s testing Pouch with 100 users of the EAT chain of UK sandwich shops. Eventually the trial will reach 10,000 consumers across 100 EAT outlets.

Weve and EAT will use the app to market tailored offers to customers in store. Users will be able to redeem offers by showing their phone to the shop assistant, but in time redemptions will be possible via QR code and NFC too. In two EAT branches, notifications will be made via Bluetooth-based iBeacon technology. This is the first trial of the Apple technology in the UK.

Interestingly, though Weve is using Apple’s iBeacon software protocols, the modules will communicate with any Beacons-compatible device. Indeed, the trial will actually begin on Android and then move onto iOS in a few weeks’ time.

Obviously, this requires some integration with the merchant’s POS. And this is the secret weapon for Weve, which has the scale and the budget to make this happen.

Indeed, it’s calling this the ‘Weve acceptance network’. Long term, it believes dozens/hundreds of retailers and brands can hook into this. It believes most brands would rather embed their offers into a Pouch app used by (potentially) millions than try to build their own loyalty app.

Sean O’Connell, a director at Weve, said: “We have been thinking about how to digitalise all those bits of plastic and paper in your wallet or purse – and then make them come to life using time, location and proximity offering emotion and reward for the customer.”

Find out why retailers should embrace iBeacons here with Red Ant’s ‘Five reasons why iBeacons are cool’ guest opinion piece

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