The European Commission has officially approved a joint venture between Everything Everywhere (Orange and T-Mobile), Telefonica (O2), and Vodafone, that will bring mobile commerce to the masses. The joint venture (which is calling itself “JV”) is planning to make it easier for businesses and consumers to “enjoy mobile marketing and wallet services”.
The carrier alliance will now set up a new company and start hiring people to bring its mobile payment platform to the market. This will give media agencies, retailers and brands access to over 37 million mobile subscribers. It should pave the way for easier opt-in marketing campaigns and create more potential for consumers to get access to offers and discounts from their chosen brands.
JV is also committed to opening up the mobile wallet space to offer some kind of unified option for payments and loyalty cards to be handled on various kinds of mobile devices. That includes shopping online from your mobile and using it in store for contactless payments.
We already heard the news that Everything Everywhere has announced an agreement to roll out contactless NFC payments with Mastercard and just today Orange rolled out NFC contactless payments for Samsung Galaxy S3 owners based on a partnership with Barclaycard and its Quick Tap service. We know that Vodafone and Telefonica were less than happy about Everything Everywhere getting a 4G network head start so it is a bit of a surprise to hear they are all working together now.
Obviously they all stand to gain by accelerating the adoption of mobile marketing and mobile wallets in the UK and so they are willing to put differences aside. The alliance is also open to newcomers and the joint statement ended by saying:
“The shareholders remain committed to making the JV services open to all, including all operators and MVNOs, 3rd party publishers, banks, advertising agencies, retailers and any company that wants to engage in this space.”
Two companies that seem unlikely to join the alliance are Google and Three. Interestingly Google and Three were both reportedly opposed to the payment scheme. Three has concerns about a monopoly and Google has its own NFC mobile payment plans with Google Wallet.