Vodafone eyes mobile payments, thanks to CorFire

CorFire will deliver the mobile-wallet services to Vodafone customers in Europe.

Google Wallet, pictured above, works the way that CorFire will work on Vodafone's network.
Roger Cheng/CNET

Vodafone, one of the larger carriers in the world, is bringing a mobile-payments service to its customers next year.

The companies announced the plans today, saying that CorFire -- the mobile-commerce arm of SK C&C, a South Korea-based IT service provider -- will deliver the technology behind it. According to CorFire, Vodafone customers will be able to make payments from their smartphones, just as customers do with competing services, like Google Wallet.

The deal could be a major opportunity for CorFire, since Vodafone has over 406 million customers in 30 countries around the world.

However, CorFire needs to prove itself first. According to Bloomberg, which spoke with CorFire, Vodafone will initially offer the mobile-payment service in Germany and Spain during the first quarter of 2013. The offering is set to expand to other countries in Europe after that.

Vodafone is not the first carrier to try its luck in mobile payments. Last week, Isis, a joint venture of Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile USA, went into testing. As with most other mobile-payment solutions, Isis relies on near-field communication to connect phones wirelessly to payment systems outfitted with that same technology. Customers can pay for products through such services with a credit card or debit card without ever having to pull plastic out of their wallets.

Believing such payment methods are the future, a host of companies have been entering the space, including PayPal and major credit card companies.

Despite its growing popularity among vendors, mobile payments have yet to catch on with consumers. And with so many service providers entering the space, it might become increasingly difficult for customers to figure out which option is right for them.