Carphone Warehouse, the UK’s largest mobile phone retailer, has
added its substantial marketing muscle – 650 stores nationwide – to
what has so far been a somewhat disappointing acceptance of mobile
payments in the country.
Carphone Warehouse’s involvement comes via an alliance with UK
mobile payment technology developer Monitise and Metavante
Technologies, the European debit and prepaid card payments
processing unit of US payments processsor Metavante
Central to the alliance will be a Carphone Warehouse prepaid
card that can be managed directly via a mobile phone. Functions
include moving money onto and off the card, reviewing recent
transactions and checking the card’s balance.
The service has a parallel in the UK’s MONILINK mobile banking
and payments network, an equally-owned joint venture between
Monitise and payments processor VocaLink.
MONILINK enables users to add credit to up to five pay prepaid
mobile phones, check an account balance and view a statement of the
last six transactions.
The three way alliance is the second in which Monitise has
teamed up with Metavante. In the US the two companies operate a
mobile phone payments venture, Monitise Americas, which was
established in August 2007. Monitise’s stake is 49 percent and
Metavante’s 51 percent.
Commenting on Carphone Warehouse’s role in the latest alliance,
Monitise’s CEO Alastair Lukies said: “Carphone Warehouse is quite
simply the brand of choice for consumers when it comes to mobile
phones, accessories and broadband. They brought mobile phones to
the mass-market of consumers and then did the same with broadband,
taking it from a niche service to one that is today found in most
households in the UK. The launch of the Carphone Warehouse prepay
card will change the way consumers shop and manage their money,
while also making online and telephone shopping more convenient and
Adoption of mobile phone-based payment technology by consumers
in the UK is undoubtedly in need of a strong marketing backer such
as Carphone Warehouse. Though at the end of 2007 MONILINK had
already been adopted by six major banks in the country that account
for 37 percent of the industry’s total current accounts Monitise
reported that there had been only about 110,000 customer
registrations for the service since its launch in October 2006.
According to Monitise the addition of a seventh bank has
subsequently increased coverage to 53 percent of current
Stressing that Monitise is in an “investment phase,” the company
reported a loss of £7 million ($13.7 million) on turnover of
£400,000 in the six months to 31 December 2007.