JV by Everything Everywhere, Vodafone and O2 “should not allow this type of collaboration to go forward under any circumstances.”
The major m-commerce project was unveiled in June, proposing the use of NFC chips in SIM-based mobile wallets, which would allow customers top up like a pre-pay card, and then touch and pay in retail outlets.
But there were warning signs from the start, when the smaller UK operators voiced their concerns about being edged out of it.
Now, before those founder operators have received clearance from the regulators, 3UK has filed a complaint with the EU’s antitrust authority to stop the venture.
3's general counsel, Stephen Lerner asserts that the “cosy collaboration” would prevent those excluded from launching their own effective services, and that the EU “should not allow this type of collaboration to go forward under any circumstances.”
It all indicates the widespread belief that payments could represent a phenomenally vast windfall for operators if they can succeed in convincing users that the phone is the best place to store cash and pay for everyday items.
In this environment, being locked out of this market is a terrifying prospect.
Then there's the conspiracy theory the major carriers are using this service as a means to reduce churn to cheaper niche carriers.
As 3 puts it: "Excluding the maverick raises serious competition concerns. It has serious implications for both consumers and wider business as the internet continues to move mobile."
Everything Everywhere, Vodafone and O2 will need to sort this out as it's believed only a cross operator approach (rather than a series of bi-lateral agreements like Orange's Quick Tap initiative with BarclayCard) can challenge services being launched by Google and (possibly) Apple.