The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into Vodafone, Telefónica and Everything Everywhere’s plans to create a UK-based mobile commerce joint venture. The scheme, which was announced in June last year and has been nicknamed ‘Project Oscar, will now be investigated to see whether it would reduce effective competition in the European Economic Area. A decision will be made by the end of August.
Joaquín Almunia, Commission Vice President in charge of 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.”
Initial concerns from the EC were that the joint venture could potentially block future competitors from offering their own UK mobile wallet services or could degrade the quality of competing mobile wallets.