Simple smartphone payments
Mobile network O2 has launched a digital wallet application allowing people to use their smartphones to shop, keep an eye on their finances and transfer cash.
The O2 Wallet, which is free to download, is accessed using a PIN code and is said to function as easily as sending a text message. The app can also be used with iPad tablets and is compatible with all phone networks and bank accounts.
"We believe it will transform the way people manage their finances and spend money," said James Le Brocq, managing director of O2 Money.
O2 is not the only company to have toyed with smartphone transactions. Only a few weeks ago (April 2012), Barclaycard released the PayTag, which allows contactless payments via a sticker attached to the back of a phone.
Daily offers via smartphone
The fortunes of Google Wallet have been less straightforward. In December 2011 it was rumoured that it would launch in the UK in time for the London 2012 Olympics, but in February 2012 it suffered a security setback relating to the use of prepaid payment cards. Earlier this month, however, Google acquired financial technology business TxVia, which will focus on developing and improving the facility.
O2 Wallet customers can use their smartphone camera to scan barcodes in shops, then search online to see if the product is cheaper elsewhere. They can also access a daily offers icon, which features discounts by well-known shops such as Tesco and Debenhams.
In the future, O2 hopes to expand its digital wallet services to include the purchasing of train tickets and contactless mobile payments. At present, shop purchases need to be made using a companion prepaid Visa card which is swiped at checkouts using technology known as 'tap and go', instead of entering a PIN code.
Daniel Nolan, managing director at theEword, said: "People use their smartphones in all areas of their lives and financial transactions are the natural next step. This new service markets itself on simplicity, so hopefully we won't see problems of the type that have affected Google Wallet."