EE customers could catch the bus or ride the tube by paying with their mobile, as the operator looks to build momentum for its Cash on Tap payments proposition.
The service was launched in July in partnership with Mastercard, and allows EE customers to pay for items under £20 with a tap of their phone as long as they have a compatible device with EE’s Tap Wallet installed. Over 230,000 merchants are able to take NFC payment, a figure which has ‘doubled since last year’.
While the service is still in its infancy, EE’s director of new business Jason Rees said he was optimistic it will hit mainstream acceptance as more services come online. He said: ‘People don’t wake up in the morning and say “I’m going to make a payment” – they’re going shopping or travelling. If they’re a commuter they want the ability to tap and ride on a train or bus, and perhaps get some loyalty while waiting in a station.
‘Our vision is to put mobile at the centre of our customer’s world. Contactless is more than just payments. We’ve partnered with Stagecoach, while work has started with Transport for London to implement a system where customers can tap their phone and ride the tube.’
Rees (pictured) described the service as ‘simple and intuitive’, although he refused to reveal how many consumers were using it. He said: ‘What I can tell you is active usage is in line with what we expected while the overall volume of users is exceeding our expectations.
‘We want it to form part of the broader EE advertising campaign as the year progresses, but we want to get it right. At the moment we’ve taken a targeted approach to marketing, so we’re really pleased it’s surpassing our expectations and proving that our model offers customers choice.’
Since EE became the first operator to launch 4G in the UK last autumn, its marketing campaign has centred on the Kevin Bacon-led commercials that have talked up the benefits of its 4G network. While Cash on Tap has not yet featured in this, Rees said there would be more scope for this in the future. He added: ‘As with any company there are priority calls to be made and we want to shout about the fact that we’re the first 4G operator. Secondary to that is the wealth of other services that 4G brings, like superfast mobile payments, and we will be talking about new and innovative services at a later date.’
EE retail staff are being trained to talk about Cash on Tap’s functionality and benefits to customers, as Rees said generally, consumers still lacked understanding. While the limited number of NFC-compatible handsets remains an issue, according to Rees, he said he expected it to be a universal proposition fairly soon. He said: ‘I wouldn’t put a date on it but I’m pretty convinced in the next couple of years we’re going to really see this go mainstream.’
Author: Matthew Campelli