EE, O2 and Vodafone ecommerce venture investigated

Tuesday, April 17th 2012
The EC is looking into a proposed ecommerce joint venture between three major network operators.
EE, O2 and Vodafone ecommerce venture investigated
The creation of an ecommerce joint venture between the UK's three largest mobile broadband operators is set to be investigated by the European Commission (EC).

Everything Everywhere (EE), O2 and Vodafone have planned to work together in the field of mobile commerce, excluding 3 Mobile, the smallest carrier in the British market.

A preliminary investigation from the EC indicated potential concerns relating to competition in the emerging fields of mobile payment applications, mobile advertising and related data analytics services, where it is feared that the working group could achieve very high market shares.

It was revealed that the three members may have the commercial and technical ability - as well as the incentive - to prevent other companies from offering their own mobile payment "wallet service" in the UK or adversely affect rival products to make them less attractive to consumers.

The commission has until August 27th 2012 to decide whether the proposed venture would diminish effective competition in the European economic area.

Joaquin Almunia, vice president in charge of competition policy for the EC, said: "The commission is in favour of any initiative that will develop the promising mobile commerce sector in Europe, and bring new and innovative payment and interactive advertising experience to consumers.

"At the same time, we need to make sure that competing services can keep emerging on this market, so that incentives to innovate remain and customers get the best mobile commerce services."

Mobile commerce is becoming an increasingly important market, with figures published by imrg last October showing that sales via the channel represented 3.3 per cent of all purchases between May and July 2011, up from an average of 0.4 per cent at the start of 2010.

Some retailers saw up to 12 per cent of their traffic come via mobile during the three-month period, illustrating an increase in confidence in the channel.

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