UK mobile payments JV opens door to 3UK

The UK mobile payments joint venture formed by Everything Everywhere (EE), Vodafone and Telefónica's O2 is talking with 3UK about possibly including 3UK in the venture. 3UK has challenged the joint venture, code-named Project Oscar, as being anti-competitive, and has threatened to lodge a formal complaint with the European Commission (EC).

"We can confirm that we are talking to 3UK," an EE spokeswoman told Total Telecom. "We've been talking to them, and other relevant parties, from the start."

O2 UK also confirmed informal discussions had taken place, but none of the three founders offered details of the talks.

The Financial Times reported that sources close to Project Oscar said the meeting between the JV and 3UK were centred on how the operator could join the JV. While both sides said the talks were on a broad basis, an area of likely debate remains the size of 3UK relative to the other operators.

According to Total Telecom, Vodafone has confirmed that the JV will be submitting its m-payments proposals to the EC early next year, although it remains unclear how long it will take to gain regulatory approval approval given that the EC regulators will be conducting their own fact-finding investigation into the venture.

Of note, the venture is also still searching for a CEO to head the business starting next year. Project Oscar hopes to launch its services ahead of the rumoured launch of Google's Wallet application. Google is rumoured to planning to launch the application in London prior to the 2012 Olympics.

For more:
- see this Total Telecom article
- see this Financial Times article

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