The European Commission (EC) has opened an in-depth investigation into the proposed mobile wallets joint venture between the UK’s biggest mobile operators.
Vodafone, Everything Everywhere and O2 announced in June last year that they intended to create a mcommerce project, allowing customers to use their mobile as a virtual wallet. Under the scheme, mobile payments would act as an intermediary between advertisers, banks and retailers.
The project is the latest venture into mobile payment, following Google’s Wallet service in the US, and the first of its kind in the UK.
But following mobile network Three’s complaints to the EC that it had been left out of the deal, the Commission has announced it is investigating whether the deal will block other networks from participants in the future.
In a statement, EC competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia 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 mobile operators said in a joint statement: “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 EC's decision is expected to be announced on 27 August.