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O2 attempts to muscle in on voucher biz with SME freebie scheme

You get ads, we get the simple joy of being your friends

O2 is opening its Priority Moments service to any business with an O2 phone, letting one-man-bands offer vouchers to O2 customers just like the big boys can.

Small businesses, who've not yet ventured into Groupon or Vouchercloud or who just fancy broadening their options, can now use O2's Priority Moments for some free advertising as long as they've got an O2 connection and are prepared to do business in the physical world.

Franchises and chains are excluded; they'll have to cough up for their ads like a proper business, but the smallest of companies can create voucher-based offers assuming they've got (or are prepared to buy) an O2 connection of any kind. Cheapo consumer tariffs are fine, even prepaid SIMs, though O2 reserves the right to reject anyone it considers to be spamming.

Assuming that's not the intention the business can submit vouchers through a process O2 reckons will take less than five minutes, and have them available to Priority Moments' users within 24 hours. Redemptions are capped at 500 - the business can specify fewer, but the cap is intended to bring business back to the portal regularly to tweak their promotion. O2 wants a relationship in exchange for the ads.

O2 is making much of its portal, claiming it outperforms those available from Vouchercloud and Groupon, though vouchers submitted to Priority Moments can only be used by O2 customers.

Vouchers are the flavour of the month right now, with schemes proliferating all over and everyone trying to grab some space at the table before the inevitable consolidation. Priority Moments is only half of O2's voucher business - it also has O2 More, an opt-in scheme which pushes vouchers out to customers based on their demographic and/or location.

Priority Moments is mainly a group-buying scheme, similar to Groupon's model, but the Local side is more like Vouchercloud's approach. Vouchercloud is now predominantly owned by Vodafone, and offers free vouchers for users and businesses, while trying to make money by offering access to particularly-choice offers to those buying "premium" subscriptions.

O2 reckons that by limiting the offer to small businesses, and requiring them to have some sort of O2 connection, they can fund the service as a promotional vehicle for O2, particularly as it tries to take the brand beyond telephony into more-profitable industries. Being free will help build up a customer base, but at some point someone will have to pay for something. In the meantime those prepared to trawl for vouchers should enjoy even more deals than ever. ®

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