Anyone with an up-to-date mobile phone could be able to make mobile payments as soon as this summer, if a joint venture between three of the UK's major mobile networks goes ahead.
As reported by the Financial Times, Project Oscar - a joint effort by Vodafone, O2 and Everything Everywhere (Orange and T-Mobile's parent company) - would provide a single cohesive system for turning phones into 'mobile wallets'.
It's exactly the kind of platform that would be needed to help mobile payments really take off in the UK. There are already some alternatives available - such as Google Wallet - but nothing has taken off on a large enough scale for retailers to consider it a viable alternative to cash and cards, and as such it's not widely available yet.
The difference between mobile wallets and existing contactless card technology is that mobile phones can provide a more comprehensive banking service, including up-to-date balances and transfers between friends and family. According to The Guardian, the platform could also be used by retailers for targeted advertising and special offers.
An expert at thinkbanking commented: "A good mobile payments system would be welcomed by mobile phone users. In fact, a lot of people will be wondering why they can't already do this, especially when they see that similar systems have been in use for years in places like Japan.
"It may not be long before people can manage more or less all aspects of their bank accounts through a simple mobile phone app. Some people may be concerned about security, but as long as the banks offer the same guarantees against fraud that they do for debit and credit cards, it shouldn't be a major issue."
The thinkmoney Personal Account offers mobile & online account management services, as well as a personalised budgeting service that helps account holders ensure they don't accidentally spend money needed for bills and other essentials. You can find out more about the thinkmoney Personal Account here.