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MasterCard forms mobile payment partnership with UK carrier Everything Everywhere

Payment giant MasterCard is expanding its partnership with Everything Everywhere, the U.K.'s largest mobile network operator. The companies announced they have signed a new five-year exclusive agreement to develop mobile and digital payment solutions such as NFC-enabled contactless payments.

"Working with MasterCard is an important step in making mobile contactless payments more widely available for our 27 million customers," said Gerry McQuade, Everything Everywhere's CMO, in the announcement. "By moving our existing co-branded card offers onto mobile devices, we are closer to a world where our customers will be able to use their phone to pay for travel to work, pay for small purchases and take advantage of loyalty rewards from their favorite retail outlets."

According to the announcement of the partnership, the deal is intended to support "the accelerated adoption of secure mobile payments by combining technology and financial assets." The first product the partners will launch is a co-branded prepaid solution using NFC technologies to facilitate payments at more than 100,000 British retailers with enabled point-of-sale terminals.

Future products from the partners will include person-to-person money transfers, loyalty rewards and mobile commerce solutions, the companies said. A mobile point of sale solution will be launched later this year.

"MasterCard's vision is of a world beyond cash, where consumers and small businesses alike can benefit from simple payments using smart technology," said Marion King, president of MasterCard UK & Ireland. "The partnership we are announcing today builds on our strong heritage in the mobile payments space and ensures that MasterCard remains the partner of choice for leading businesses in the U.K."

MasterCard and Everything Everywhere have already partnered on mobile payments with Orange QuickTap, an NFC mobile payment service launched last year along with British bank Barclays. Everything Everywhere, a joint venture between Deutsche Telekom and France Télécom, operates the Orange brand in the U.K. 

QuickTap is a prepaid payment product that lets Orange subscribers make purchases of up to £15 ($25) by tapping or waving NFC-enabled mobile devices over contactless point-of-sale terminals. It is limited to Barclaycard, Barclays debit and Orange Credit Card customers. Users transfer up to £100 ($160) at a time to fund their QuickTap accounts, and purchases are then debited from those accounts. 

The partnership between Everything Everywhere and MasterCard casts some doubt on the future of another mobile payment venture Everything Everywhere is involved in. "Project Oscar," a joint venture between Everything Everywhere and its two largest wireless rivals in the U.K., Vodafone and O2, was announced more than a year ago. The intent of the JV was to create a single point of contact for banks and businesses looking to create mobile payment solutions for the partners' subscribers. However, the project is still awaiting regulatory approval at this point, and Everything Everywhere's deal with MasterCard may signal its intent to go it alone instead of waiting for Project Oscar to launch.

For more stories on this topic, visit the Carriers/Card Brands research center.

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