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The German arms of Telefonica and Vodafone, along with Deutsche Telekom, have signed an agreement to take their virtual mpass payment platform physical, without the help of the banks.

The letter of intent, signed by all three companies, states that the mpass system will be set up as a jointly-owned-but-independent company handling payments made by customers of any of the network operators, and without having to pass on a cut to the existing payment processors.

That is in contrast to the rest of the world where mobile operators have been busy conceding the mobile-payments business to the existing providers (Visa, Mastercard and their ilk).

In the USA ISIS was set up to provide a similar mechanism, but has now scaled back plans to welcome in the existing players, while the UK operators have been busy creating a standardised advertising platform so that they can make money from NFC without having to worry about slicing the mobile-payment cake too thinly.

But German operators reckon they can do it, even if it means distributing new point-of-sale equipment to shops and, as NFC Times points out, delaying previously-scheduled launches of independent offerings:

"[Q]ueues at the supermarket will soon be a thing of the past," says Deutsche Telekom's ebullient Director of Marketing, espousing the benefits of pay-by-tap.

Mpass already operates in Germany, allowing payments authorised by SMS, and was even available (briefly) in the UK a decade or so ago, but despite its longevity it hasn't proved very popular. Getting new terminals into every shop in the country will increase the visibility of the brand, but it is the cost of doing just that which has put off operators in so many other countries. ®

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