EC to investigate mobile payment joint venture

Negative impact on competition?

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into a mobile payment joint venture planned by VodafoneTelefónica and Everything Everywhere. The EC’s preliminary investigation indicates potential competition concerns in the mobile wallet market, where the proposed venture, dubbed Project Oscar, may have a very high share.

The companies wanted to launch their project by the summer Olympics, but the EC could leave any decision on whether the deal may have a negative impact on competition until August 27.  According to the competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia, the EC needs to make sure that “competing services can keep emerging on this market” and “customers get the best mobile commerce services at the best cost“. Mobile operator Three, which is not included in the venture, is welcoming the investigation.

The Commission’s decision clears a way for Google, which is set to launch its Google Wallet service in the UK in the next few months. The service allows users to make purchases by tapping their handsets on a PayPass reader, and is already available in the US.

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