THREE MAJOR UK TELECOM PROVIDERS, Everything Everywhere, O2 and Vodafone, have won bids to offer a mobile wallet partnership to consumers.
According to the Financial Times (paywalled), the European Commission approved the venture dubbed Project Oscar today, giving the mobile operators the go ahead to compete with rival payment services such as the rumoured Google Wallet, which is also expected to launch this Autumn.
According to a statement released by the office of European competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia, the deal is unlikely to impede effective competition in the mobile wallet market, which involves users being able to pay for goods with their handsets.
"Mobile commerce is a nascent sector that may radically change the consumer buying experience in the next few years. The proposed joint venture is one of several initiatives to develop the sector in Europe," Almunia said.
"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."
Everything Everywhere, O2 and Vodafone issued a joint statement declaring that the venture will bring to the UK an easy and effective way for businesses to create and for consumers to "enjoy mobile marketing" and wallet services.
"With EC clearance received, the job of getting the joint venture up and running as quickly as possible can begin, starting with the hiring of the necessary people and the creation of the new company," the statement read.
The firms were also keen to promote the economic benefits that working together on mobile payment technologies could have for consumers and businesses.
"It will remove a number of the barriers that currently inhibit growth It will provide a single contact point for media agencies, retailers and brands, enabling them to create campaigns that will reach millions of opted-in mobile users," they said.
"This will apply across the majority of handsets, operating systems and mobile operators. For consumers, this means they will be able to receive the discounts and offers that they want to receive from the brands that are relevant to them." µ