A consortium of mobile operators – Vodafone, O2 and Everything Everywhere (T-Mobile and Orange) - are waiting for the European Commission to approve its mobile wallet and mobile payments business in the UK.
Expected to be approved sometime this year, the aim of Project Oscar is to provide a single platform that retailers, banks and other financial businesses can use to enable customers to store cash on their mobile devices that are linked to current accounts and credit cards.
Project Oscar payments will be enabled through near field communications (NFC). However, handset providers are reluctant to produce phones that have NFC chips because infrastructure is not yet in place from retailers. In turn, retailers are reluctance to put infrastructure in place because there are few if any phones with NFC chips. This is alongside uncertainty about demand and a dearth of payment systems to justify either parties investing right now.
One thing I like about PayPal’s mobile payments system is that it isn't dependent upon NFC. Customers scan a barcode using an app on their phone, and their PayPal accounts are debited accordingly. This type of approach is likely to take off more rapidly because it only requires infrastructure at the retailer side of the transaction.