Vodafone takes controlling stake in Vouchercloud

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The operator now owns 57 per cent of Invitation Digital Limited, the parent company of online coupon service Vouchercloud

Vodafone Group has upped its investment in the parent company of coupon service Vouchercloud to 57 per cent, giving the operator a controlling stake in the service.

Financial details were not disclosed for the investment in Bedminster-based Invitation Digital Limited, which built on the 21 per cent stake Vodafone took in the firm in May last year.

However, Vodafone is understood to have first refusal on direct share purchases in the future.

Vouchercloud is today (June 6) launching in Ireland, having initially operated in the UK.

Vodafone says that it plans to extend the service further afield.

Vodafone Group commercial director Tobin Ireland said: “Mobile couponing is set to grow rapidly across Vodafone’s businesses as cost-conscious consumers increasingly turn to their smartphones to hunt for bargains and collect loyalty points.

“We look forward to working more closely with Vouchercloud in future as m-commerce services become ever more central to consumers’ daily lives.”

Invitation Digital CEO and co-founder Scott Davidson said: “Our vision is to build the world’s leading mobile couponing business, making it easy for consumers to save money and get the best deals from a wide range of retailers, wherever they are.

“We are delighted that Vodafone shares our vision of the future and look forward to a long and successful partnership.”

Informa Telecoms analyst Guillermo Escofet said the deal reflected how additional services such as coupons and daily deals were  becoming increasingly important to operators’ advertising and marketing strategies.

He said: “With rival UK operator O2 having built up a 10-million strong community of subscribers opted in to receive offers under the O2 More service, and rival carrier group Deutsche Telekom having struck a partnership with daily-deals site Groupon in January, Vodafone doesn’t want to be left behind.

“The move also reflects the wider trend among operators of embracing the over-the-top model. Rather than focus its strategy on creating a voucher service specifically targeted at its own subscribers, it is investing in a company that targets all mobile users, regardless of which network they are subscribed to.

“In the globalised world of mobile apps, the limitations placed by operators’ network footprints have become a huge handicap.”

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