“We see ourselves being an aggregator of services and payments,” says Telefónica boss

The chief executive of Telefónica Europe has given the strongest indication yet that the mobile operator will take a cooperative, rather than a competitive, route to introducing NFC services.

Telefonica Europe CEO Matthew Key
FROM THE TOP: Telefonica is ‘uniquely positioned to take advantage of NFC’, says Matthew Key

Matthew Key, chief executive of Telefónica Europe, has used a keynote speech at the CeBIT tradeshow in Hannover this week to provide further details of the mobile network operator’s business strategy for NFC, tech news site V3.co.uk reports.

Telefónica is “uniquely positioned” to take advantage of NFC development, particularly in the field of location-based advertising, Key told delegates.

“We see ourselves being an aggregator of services and payments. As a mobile business we are uniquely positioned.”

Location-based advertising, which O2 has already started using in the UK, is also being tipped to become a “major product line” with the increasing use of smartphones, Key explained.

“Customers can opt to receive a voucher on their mobile phone. We know when a customer is wandering past Starbucks, and can send a barcode asking them if they want to go inside and get 50p off a latte,” he said.

“Location-based is customer specific and is win-win. The retailer benefits, the customer benefits and [O2] sits in the middle and benefits as well.”

Key’s use of the word “aggregator” suggests the company does not see itself simply as a standalone provider of financial services to customers. Instead, it seems set to position itself as a middleman, creating a link between banks and retailers, for example, and customers using NFC technology.

This does not spell the end for the company’s move into providing its own NFC-based services, though, as O2 UK’s managing director of financial services told NFC World last month. O2 UK’s long-term vision for NFC, James Le Brocq explained, is to “bring the contents of your wallet to your mobile phone and create your mobile wallet” — and that means “I have to let customers put whatever product they want into their wallet.”

But, as well as working with other service providers, O2 also has “every intention of providing O2 Money products,” Le Brocq added. The mobile operator therefore plans to apply for an e-money license so that it can hold funds on behalf of its customers, although the company “has no plan to be a bank.”

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