UK mobile operator trio face NFC delay

Awaiting EC regulatory approval

An NFC mobile payment joint venture between the UK’s top three mobile operators, Vodafone, Telefonica and Everything Everywhere, is awaiting EC regulatory approval. Dubbed Project Oscar, the new venture would be a single sales agent working with a set of cross-platform and cross-network NFC standards. However, antitrust concerns make it unlikely that Project Oscar will be operational in time for the collaboration’s original goal of the London Olympics. Some worry that the alliance will damage competition in the budding sector, and the UK’s fourth network, 3, is asking the EC to block the project. 

The operators – which control the Vodafone, O2, Orange and T-Mobile networks – expect to file their papers with regulatory body in the next two weeks. The EC has already asked for extensive information, but is expected to delay its answer for the maximum six weeks, and possibly ask for more information after that. This means that a universal NFC payments service is unlikely to precede the Olympics, and that Google Wallet may beat ‘Project Oscar’ to market.

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