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European Commission to probe UK mobile payments joint venture

Could fall afoul of competition rules
Mon Apr 16 2012, 11:34

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) has announced plans to launch an in-depth probe into a mobile payments joint-venture between the UK's largest mobile operators.

The venture named Project Oscar was announced last month and sees O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere aiming to deliver a standalone mobile payments solution in time for the London 2012 Olympics. However, the EC has found that Project Oscar might stop competitors, namely Three, from launching its own mobile payments service, which means it could fall afoul of European competiton rules.

In a statement released on Friday, Joaquín Almunia, EC VP of competition policy said, "The Commission is in favour of any initiative that will develop the promising mobile commerce sector in Europe and bring new and innovative payment and interactive advertising experience to consumers."

"At the same time, we need to make sure that competing services can keep emerging on this market, so that incentives to innovate remain and customers get the best mobile commerce services at the best cost."

The Commission is expected to reach a final decision by 27 August, but the networks believe that the venture will be approved.

"We remain confident that an extended review will conclude that the proposed joint venture is pro-competitive and will provide robust competition to global players," the three firms said in a joint statement.

If Project Oscar isn't approved that will see the UK falling to the back of the NFC race. Once again. µ


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