The European Commission has launched an investigation into the mobile wallets joint venture between Everything Everywhere, O2 and Vodafone.
The commission had conducted a preliminary probe since early last month into the service and found it could have the potential to block others from offering their own rival services or the JV could degrade the quality of rival's offerings. The commission launched an in-depth investigation on Friday (13 April) to further determine whether the initial concerns are likely. It is expected to last up to 90 days, with a deadline of 27 August.
Joaquín Almunia, the commission's VP for 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 three operators were originally hopeful that the joint venture, dubbed Project Oscar, would get European regulatory approval in time for an Olympics launch. Project Oscar is designed to provide mobile commerce services to businesses, including mobile payment transaction services, mobile marketing and data analytics.
A statement from the three operators said the companies were confident the review would rule the JV is 'pro-competitive and will provide robust competition to global players'. The statement said: 'The joint venture shareholders believe the proposed joint venture will bring significant benefits to consumers as well as all businesses and organisations that want to offer mobile market and m-payments services. At the heart of the proposed joint venture is a desire to bring to the UK an easy and simple solution for businesses to create and consumers to enjoy m-commerce services.'
Editor: Graeme Neill