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September 5, 2012
The mobile commerce joint venture between UK operators O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere (parent of the Orange and T-Mobile brands in the UK) has been granted unconditional approval by the European Commission (EC).
The Commission approved the JV, codenamed project Oscar, despite 3UK being left out of the venture. It ruled that Oscar is not likely to be a significant impediment to effective competition.
“The proposed joint venture is one of several initiatives to develop the sector in Europe,” said Joaquín Almunia, Commission VP in charge of competition policy. “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 three operators involved said in a joint statement that their focus will now shift to the job of getting the JV up and running, starting with the hiring of the necessary people and the creation of the new company. The mobile marketing platform is expected to be the first part of the business that is brought to market. A mobile wallet platform will be launched soon after.
“In mobile payments, the JV will benefit businesses and consumers by accelerating the deployment of mobile wallets and associated services in a secure way,” the statement read. “Through the solution offered by the JV, businesses will be able to connect once in order 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.”
The operators added that they are committed to ensuring that the JV services are open to all, including all operators and MVNOs, third party publishers, banks, advertising agencies, retailers and any company that wants to engage in this space.
3UK said that, following the EC’s approval, it expects that it will not suffer from being excluded as one of the founding members.
“We will continue to monitor developments closely and look forward to the invitation to become a customer of the joint venture on the same terms as all participating UK mobile operators.”
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