EC Likely To Approve Project Oscar NFC Joint Venture

Vodafone, O2 and EE hope for European approval for mobile wallet scheme

Three of the UK’s largest mobile operators could be given the green light by the European Commission (EC) to launch Europe’s first joint-venture mobile payment platform.

Vodafone, O2 and Everything Everywhere, which operates the Orange and T-Mobile brands, submitted plans for Project Oscar to the EC in March, which launched an investigation to test its concerns that the establishment of the venture could be anti-competitive.

However sources told the FT that that the Commission would allow the partners to proceed with few or no remedies. They said that regulatory approval could come as early as this summer, but warned that the investigation was still ongoing and that a final decision had yet to be reached.

Project Oscar Award

Initial feedback from the EC has encouraged the operators, who hope to launch Project Oscar later this year. Oscar is seen as vital to the partners’ plans for mobile payments and is designed as a single platform that can be used by retailers and banks to allow phones to be used as mobile wallets.

Regulatory approval would allow Oscar to get a head start on rivals such as Google Wallet, which currently operates in the US, and Apple’s future iWallet service. Competitors, including the largest network not included in the partnership, Three, have voiced their concerns as it is widely expected that the first service to gain traction would have a significant advantage with consumers.

Deutsche Telekom, joint-owner of Everything Everywhere, last week agreed a deal to bring mobile payment products to its 93 million European customers, starting with Poland and Germany.

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