Interesting news on O2′s launch of their pre-paid credit cards. They are launching 2 Visa cards in mid August one called the ‘Cash Manager’ and the other ‘Load and Go”.
The o2 money site says:
“O2 is all about finding the best ways of connecting you to your world. And we know that you’d appreciate an easy way to stay on top of your cash using your mobile. So that’s why we’ve launched O2 Money cards. You load money onto your O2 Money card, then whenever you use it you’ll receive a free real time text alert.”
The Ã¢â‚¬ËœCash Manager’ card is there to help you stay on top of your spending by providing a prepaid Visa card. The card has an annual limit of up to £10,000 and is free to sign up and use as long as you are an O2 customer.
The ‘Load and Go’ card is aimed at the younger generation (13+) and can be topped up with a maximum £1,800 a year. Cash can be added to the card using O2 shops, debit card online (i.e. parents) and also Paypoint and e-pay locations across the UK. Again users will receive text alerts and is available exclusively for o2 customers.
Whilst both cards can be used to top up your Pay as You go I couldnt work out why O2 were launching these cards. What do they get out of it? The cards would cost next to nothing for them I imagine and the are run by Natwest.
I saw this tweet by the official O2 stream:
The wallet and the mobile phone are coming together – this will allow us to bring new services to our customers
To me this seems a strange way of bridging the gap between ‘the wallet’ and the mobile phone when it would be very easy for the MNO’s to effectively become banks themselves which they have shied away from but that’s another story in itself.
The tweet lead me to think Advertising. O2 will be able to monitor users spend as well as their mobile usage and offer targeted advertisements to users and make revenues from brands etc. Competition for Blyk? Or is this just the future of mobile? after the 118800 fiasco it seems all fingers are starting to point at reaching people directly to there mobiles.
Maybe O2 will give Natwest and Visa access to their user base. The student banking market is huge in the UK with banks putting out all efforts to sign up students knowing that they will leave university with overdrafts and credit cards thus effectively signed up to that bank for years whilst they pay it back when they start fulltime employment. This gives O2 and Natwest a good opportunity to build a detailed ‘relationship’ with these consumers and understand their lifestyles.
Personally I think the card is a great idea considering the state of ‘credit Britain’ but this shouldn’t be done by O2 let alone an MNO. Maybe O2 should think about updating there Payforit scheme which offers a lot more potential and still uses the old Premium SMS technology.
What do you think?