O2 buys out Weve partners and drops mobile payment plans


O2, one of the three UK mobile network operators that formed the mobile commerce joint venture Weve three years ago, has bought out partners EE and Vodafone to operate the brand as a wholly-owned subsidiary — and has confirmed to NFC World that it has abandoned Weve’s mobile payment ambitions.

The announcement marks the dissolution of a second major carrier-led mobile payments venture in recent months, following the news that US-based Softcard closed its doors earlier in March this year.

“Weve Limited, the mobile commerce joint venture developed by O2, EE and Vodafone, today announced that all shares in its business have been acquired by O2,” O2 said in a statement. “The acquisition follows a strategic review of Weve and as a result, Vodafone and EE have now exited from their one-third shareholdings. Weve will now trade as a wholly-owned subsidiary of O2.”

Pressed on its mobile wallet ambitions, Weve told NFC World: “We came out of the mobile payments business in Q3 last year, in terms of a common wallet between all three shareholders, We still hold significant intellectual property in this space, but have no plans to move back into this market.”

“By focusing on mobile advertising, Weve has been really successful, growing by 45% year-on-year in 2014,” adds David Plumb, the digital director for the O2 division that will control Weve. “With O2’s heritage in digital services and as a pioneer in digital advertising, we are perfectly placed to capitalise on this potential.

“We are therefore pleased to announce that after a strategic re-evaluation of the joint venture, O2 is acquiring Weve. By bringing Weve in house, we will be making it bigger with an additional 20 million opt-ins through O2 WiFi and Priority.

“With more data sets and richer analytics, it will be better and with only one owner to answer to, it will be faster. Through this acquisition, we will be able to offer our business customers the platform to offer their customers more personal and contextually relevant offers.”

Weve opened for business in 2012 with an initial focus on mobile advertising solutions before partnering with MasterCard in 2014 to add NFC payments to its offering. The joint venture lost its CEO David Sear later that year.

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