Telefónica introduces phone-to-phone payments in Germany

Smartphone users can transfer money using only a phone number, Telefónica said

By Loek Essers, IDG News Service |  Mobile & Wireless

"Services like mpass are gaining some prominence in the European market in the last years," Gurung said. Telefónica introduced the O2 wallet in the U.K. in 2012, a service that allows users to make contactless payments using NFC enabled smartphones in shops. O2 wallet will also be tested in Germany at the same time as mpass hits the market.

This will be a 'friendly user test' though, allowing customers to volunteer to test the service. "The wallet starts with mpass included. In the future the wallet will include further products and services such as credit cards, loyalty programmes and so on," Opalka said.

Similar services are also offered in the U.K. by Barclays. The bank introduced Barclays Pingit in 2012, a service that offers an app for iOS, Android and BlackBerry to make phone-to-phone payments using only a phone number. Another similar mobile payments service is offered in the U.K. by PayPal, that allows users to send money to others using an email address or phone number, Gurung said.

Mobile payment services could eventually generate extra revenue for operators, said Gurung. "Operators realize they need to expand beyond the traditional text and voice business model," he said.

But for now, their mobile payment services are mainly an opportunity to expand their brands and increase customer loyalty, he said. Because the mobile payments market is very young, and operators in contrast to traditional credit card companies often don't charge per transaction, Gurung doesn't expect the mobile payments industry to be a huge revenue driver for operators any time soon.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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