U.K. m-payments JV 'Project Oscar' reportedly delayed by EU probe

The UK m-payments JV formed by O2UK, Everything Everywhere and Vodafone is likely to be delayed by European competition regulators.

The initiative, known only as a Project Oscar, had submitted its plans to the European Commission with the idea that the m-payments system would be up and running in time for the London 2012 Olympics.

However, according to the Daily Telegraph, the European Commission has the option to pass, reject or further scrutinise Project Oscar's plans, and would appear to have taken the latter option, said insiders close to the process.

Protests by rival operator 3UK about its exclusion from the m-payments project are not thought to have influenced the European Commission's decision to investigate further.

A source told the Daily Telegraph that the Competition Directorate within the European Commission is likely to request further time to evaluate Project Oscar's objectives because "the entire mobile phone payments market is still so embryonic."

Any investigation by the Competition Directorate could take up to six months, with a focus on which m-wallets can be stored on individual handsets.

Similar m-payment projects across Europe are also being examined by the European Commission, which will make a separate decision on each application. In an effort to appease possible competition worries, Project Oscar said its m-wallet technology would be open to other banks and MVNOs.

For more:
- see this Daily Telegraph article

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