EC Approves Mobile Payments JV  

Sept. 7, 2012

The European Commission (EC) yesterday approved a proposed mobile payments joint venture between three of the largest wireless carriers in the U.K. In April, the EC revealed it had begun an in-depth investigation to ascertain if the new company formed by Telefónica, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere (T-Mobile and O2) was in violation of EC anticompetition regulations. Yesterday’s ruling gives “unconditional” approval for the venture to move ahead.

“Mobile commerce is a nascent sector that may radically change the consumer buying experience in the next few years,” said Joaquín Almunia, commission vice president in charge of competition policy. “The proposed joint venture is one of several initiatives to develop the sector in Europe. The Commission is keen on promoting innovation in this area and ensuring that the markets remain open so that a number of competing solutions can emerge without undue obstacles, to the benefit of consumers.”

The JV reacted to the ruling by indicating that staffing for the venture will begin immediately. In a joint statement, the companies said a mobile marketing platform will precede a payments platform, but that the eventual payments solution offered by the JV will enable businesses “to offer a wide variety of mobile wallet services—including payment and loyalty cards—to millions of consumers on the majority of handsets, operating systems and mobile operators.”