The UK's biggest networks have announced a new joint venture to bring Near Field Communication technology in phones to the masses.

The new initiative, comprising of Vodafone, O2 and Everything Everywhere, is designed to make an open platform for other businesses to implement NFC payment systems.

In essence, it means NFC-enabled mobile phones will become widespread, and everything from tickets to food to transport can be linked into a user's phone.

Credit, debit and loyalty cards will all be accessible with one beep, or customers can use the same linked account to pay for things online.

The new joint venture will also likely see an explosion in location-based offers, with users sharing their position sent coupons and offers of nearby relevant shops if they opt-in to such schemes.

The next step

Tom Alexander, CEO of Everything Everywhere, said:""The benefits [of this joint venture] will be felt across the whole industry, allowing people to manage their money and make payments using their handsets, helping advertisers reach their customers on the move, and helping banks provide their clients with an easy and convenient way of making payments.

Ronan Dunne, Chief Executive Officer of O2 parent company Telefónica UK, said: "The mobile marketing and payments market is extremely fragmented.

"This is not just something that is unique in the UK, but a joint venture that will create a model that many countries around the world could follow."

Guy Laurence, Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone UK, said: "Currently people take their mobile, wallet and keys when they leave home.

"In the near future, people will now start leaving their wallet at home, and in the mid term their keys may also be integrated into their mobile as NFC allows the mobile to act as a digital access card. The joint venture is the next phase in realising that ambition."

The joint venture is currently undergoing competition clearance and the networks are aiming for a launch before 2012 rolls around.