back to article Pay-by-bonk on the blink: O2 loses Wallet

UK mobile network O2's Wallet was supposed to be the start of its move into the banking biz, with your mobile phone playing the role of bank card. The service grew out of the 2007 trial of NFC which found that if you give people free money they enjoy spending it. But it turns out that people aren't that keen when it is their …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just as several other companies are entering the Mobile Wallet market...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mobile wallets

    Seem to be the brainchild of marketing types who take the train from a London suburb to their city centre job and want to buy a Starbucks* without breaking a twenty, then lunch on the fly while paradigm-shifting their blue-sky thinking, with a quick artisan micro-brewed pint after work in the Trader's arms, finally training home to 2.4 kids and a cheating wife for a bottle of Château de ponce, obtained via a wine club he found on his iPad.

    These are the same people who think we all want to watch a box-set of whatever-american-drama while on the move during our hectic lives.

    I live 5 minutes away from work. I don't have the need to do any of the things a mobile wallet would be useful for. I can't watch a box-set while driving (like a lot of people outside of London do) and I would prefer as few people as possible have access to my money.

    *other brands of coffee are also available if you really want to live that cosmopolitan lifestyle!

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Re: Mobile wallets

      Exactly - agree with above.

      Also seems to be a solution in search of a problem. This morning on the radio they did a speed test for Zapp against cash:-


      'Here's a tenner ... how long did that take? - how far have you got with the phone?'

      See for more info on Zapp

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mobile wallets

      Almost. Starbucks is out of fashion though. You mean an artisan coffee from a boutique roaster of single estate beans.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mobile wallets

        "You mean an artisan coffee from a boutique roaster of single estate beans."

        I wouldn't sully my grinder (whoo-er!) - single bush or nothing here mate !

    3. Phil W

      Re: Mobile wallets

      I have to say, regardless of who thought them up, I like the idea and wish it would catch on properly.

      I use NFC in a number of places for payments and find it quite handy. I also have a tendency to leave the house and forget my wallet, though I rarely forget my phone, so having a mobile wallet app would be extremely useful to me. This is in fact why I'm planning to switch to EE when my contract is up, unless a network independent solution arrives first.

      One of the biggest annoyances of NFC though is that there are some places that take it, but they apparently have to press a button on the till to trigger the PDQ and they're in the habit of doing this after you've inserted your card. Having to tell them you want to use NFC so they press the button first defeats the convenience and time saving of NFC in the first place.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mobile wallets

        Don't do it!

        I switched from Orange to EE last week, and my phone has not been able to receive telephone calls since! The dialer gets "Number Unobtainable".

        Still, nothing is without some beneficial side effects. It stops the wife interrupting me at work with her trivia.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mobile wallets

        Don't bother with Cash-on-Tap unless you want to pay through the nose and get a Locked Contract Phone - they do NOT support Unlocked NFC Samsung Galaxay S3 or S4 phones - they neglect to tell you anywhere that this is the case but let me assure you - it is...

  3. Dapprman

    The real problem is people like real cash

    Let us not forget there have been previous attempts to move us on to electronic direct money transfers - let us not forget Mondex from the late 1990s (or was it later) - great idea of having your own digital wallet and being able to do direct transfers of small amounts to others without having to go through a banking system (literally an electronic cash wallet for those too young to remember). In theory it was a great idea, but when tested no one wanted to use it and it died.

    1. A K Stiles

      Re: The real problem is people like real cash

      It's true enough. I'd be happy with a digital cash card, if it had a display (eg e-ink) to show what the balance was, and would be wirelessly powered / charged from the cash machine / pay terminal everytime you use it, add money, and where I could transfer a specific amount of money to someone else's card by some simple mechanism of bringing the 2 devices together, perhaps with an optional one-time validation code required (like bluetooth pairing?) .

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The real problem is people like real cash

        Bitcoin, anyone?

        1. Chad H.

          Re: The real problem is people like real cash

          No thanks. At least with the Dutch Tulip bubble you could eat or plant the bulbs.

  4. Oli 1

    The only reason i ever tried o2 Wallet was in the faint hope i'd one day be able to pay by bonk with it, as promised in a new version that never arrived. Nice to see that paid off....

    We really need to sort this out in the UK, the only way it seems possible to get NFC payments is either with a limited iphone trial with natwest or android with barclays. have i missed anyone?

    needless to say im an android user with natwest, so no go.

    we will be back to trading in rocks before they ever sort this mess out

    1. DanDanDan

      NFC, think you mean PBB

      The only reason I want a PBB card is so I can ask the staff if I can "Pay by bonk". If NFC starts to catch on, I'll be truly gutted!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Maybe the reason no other bank is doing it is they don't see much point in it either.

    3. Jedihomer Townend


      ... I tried it, it was only any good when they released the physical card, then it worked just like all the other physical cards in my wallet... And after every transaction it sent me an SMS containing the new balance...

      1. Anonymous C0ward

        Pay by bonk

        Good moaning, I have sod news...

  5. PriSoner

    Wallet crippled by lack of NFC.

    If failed because it "WAS NOT" Pay by bonk. Without NFC it offered nothing.

    I signed up to it and played around trying to figure out what I could actually do with it that was useful. The conclusion was nothing.

    I want pay by bonk on my mobile, most of my friends want to be able to use the NFC capability of their mobile. Unfortunately no-one in the UK currently supports it, when they do I will sign up and leave my wallet at home.

    1. Brangdon

      Re: Wallet crippled by lack of NFC.

      I want Pay By Bonk on my watch. It doesn't belong in a phone, because getting a phone out of you pocket isn't any easier than getting your wallet out. (By all means use the phone as a UI for the watch, though.)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Credit Card?

    Firstly - the initial O2 Card Product - was in fact a PREPAID Card not a Credit Card! Distinctly different I think you will find...

    The initial offering was provided by Natwest (as stated) and was basically a normal prepaid card with text alerts for balance and a partner mobile app - but fairly limited.

    The second offering was a migration away from Natwest - offering a dual interface chip card (contactless/NFC and contact based EMV) and normal magstripe. A more advanced partner app was provided to manage the prepaid account and had side offerings with e-Coupons for eCommerce Retailers and the ability to "hold" account and card details to pay on select sites or move funds between accounts (even person to person payments). Unfortunately it wasn't sexy, straightforward or interesting - so it's not surprising it died [EDIT]... (this is a family show - please...).

    Why didn't they move forward to NFC SE Issuing (eSE, USIM SE, or CloudSE) - probably because WEVE (the JV of which O2 is one of three major shareholders) is likely to be developing something to be revealed in the near future.

    Still - it could have been worse - look at EE Cash-on-Tap... someone needs to flush that away....

  7. OldPalmFan

    I had an O2 Wallet NFC card and it was a disaster....

    I wanted to try 'pay by bonk' as it does seem a sensible way to carry out small transactions. As my credit card company was not offering an NCC card I worked out that by signing up for O2 Money/Wallet I could then sign up for their debit card that was NFC enabled. This process wasn't too difficult and it was fairly easy to transfer monies from my bank account to the O2 Money account. The controls seemed sensible; no single transaction over £20 and I got a txt every time I used the card confirming the spend and remaining balance.

    Initially all was good and it was fairly easy to pay for coffees etc via my O2 bonk card. However one day the transaction 'failed'. This was slightly embarrassing but I had cash. It became annoying when I discovered that the money had been deducted from my O2 Money account, but not transferred to the merchant. O2 told me that 'Visa rules (or was it Mastercard) meant that I had to wait 2 weeks for the refund. They said they had some problems and were working on a fix.

    A month or so later the same occurred. The transaction was 'refused' however the monies came off the card, and again I was told I would have to wait for the monies to be refunded.

    Just think on this for a moment. You are executing a financial transaction that gets to the point where the money is taken out of your account, is not transferred to the merchant, and then you have to wait 2 weeks for a refund. The compensation they did pay me for my troubles was not really the point. I decided that their systems were simply not trustworthy and closed my account some months ago.

    I'm therefore not in the least surprised that O2 have closed the service.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Response to "OldPalmFan"

    To be fair OldPalmFan those "Reversal" rules are set by the Cardschemes (in O2's case VISA - bit of a give away - the logo is clearly printed on the face on the card).

    In the event of the Point of Interaction (POS Terminal or ATM) encountering some kind of failure a transaction can time out and trigger a reversal - unfortunately due to previous fraud attacks in the mid 2000's on Prepaid Card Reversals now have a cool down period before your funds are refunded back to the available balance - there was nothing O2 or the merchant/atm operator could do in this case.

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Response to "OldPalmFan"

      Visa and their ilk need to be regulated to stop them doing that kind of thing

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Response to "OldPalmFan"

        Technically they are regulated:

        (i.) By the Issuer who doesn't have to Issue Cards from that particular Cardscheme (remember members - depending on their size - can press for change).

        (ii.) By the Acquirer (also a member) - they don't have to accept those particular Cards...

        (iii.) The consumer - you can choose a different Cardscheme or method of payment if you don't like it - vote with your feet!

        (iv.) Local and Regional Legal & Regulatory - eg FCA in UK or European Rules & Regs (eg PSD).

        Tada: you learned something...

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