The European Commission has given the green light to a mobile wallet initiative to be rolled out by the UK’s three largest mobile operators.
Vodafone, Telefónica’s O2 and Everything Everywhere (owner of Orange and T-mobile) plan to offer mobile payment services allowing users to make payments and purchases via their phones.
The mobile operators are keen to compete with rival mobile payment services from tech firms such as Apple, Google and Facebook.
The Commission launched an enquiry in April into the operators m-wallet plans, dubbed Project Oscar, amid potential competition concerns.
Joaquín Almunia, the European Commission vice president in charge of competition policy said: “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.”
Following the announcement, Vodafone, Telefónica and Everything Everywhere said that they will soon start working on the launch of an integrated m-wallet platform in the UK. It will be compatible with the majority of mobile handsets, operating systems and operators.
In a joint statement Vodafone, Telefónica and Everything Everywhere said: “[The joint venture] has the potential to transform the mobile marketing landscape in the UK. It will remove a number of the barriers that currently inhibit growth and create a single channel with access to millions of UK consumers at launch.”
In early September, Everything Everywhere announced details of a 5-year deal with MasterCard to develop new payment solutions for mobile phones, starting with a NFC pre-paid e-wallet.