David Sear, the boss of mobile money joint venture Weve, has stood down, Mobile, Marketing Week and others have reported.
The Weve platform is based around analytics as well as payments but works by enabling the wallet - which the operator or bank brings to the platform.
Weve was originally positioned as a way for EE, Telefonica and Vodafone to participate in mobile payments with a route to pay-by-bonk phones.
The organisation always said it would start with mobile marketing schemes but told the BBC in 2012 that it was aiming to release “a unified smartphone-based service offering an alternative to cash, credit cards and loyalty cards”.
The initial plan was to go with the low-hanging fruit of mobile marketing before moving on to the difficult stuff of payments. Along the way, the plan for a single wallet was dropped, along with the idea that each of the operators should bring their own. When even O2 killed its wallet, it all started looking less hopeful for the rest.
The Financial Times, through a Freedom of Information Act request, found that Weve – which was given seed capital of £38m by its sugar daddies – had made a loss of £25m on revenues of £13m in its first year. Weve argues that much of this was recruitment and development costs and that it’s all moving in the right direction, but it leaves a lot less in the tin for the hard stuff of mobile payments and NFC – which have much greater security, implementation and deployment costs than mobile marketing.
While Sears has stepped down from Weve, he still holds the role of chairman of the board at credit card payments company Semafone and non-exec chairman at pioneering mobile payments and content management company Bango.
He won’t get to leave straight away, though, as he reportedly plans to stick around at Weve until a replacement can be found. ®