EU clears joint venture between Belgacom and BNP Paribas

The EU Commission has cleared a joint venture between Belgium telecommunications company Belgacom and BNP Paribas. The joint venture will provide communication of discounts, vouchers, offers and coupon redemption services and mobile wallet services to Belgian consumers and businesses.

The deal was allowed to proceed because it was found to satisfy several aspects of the EU's onerous competition policy. The joint venture will be facing several actual and potential competitors and was not believed to be capable of harming the market.

The venture will be active in the provision of mobile wallets and will offer a free app that customers can download. It will not directly offer payment functions but will be connected to independent payment wallets in which customers can upload their payment details to make secure payments to participating businesses.

The investigation into the potential venture revealed that several competing mobile wallet providers already existed, most obviously in the form of Paypal, as well as others that were very likely to enter the Belgian market in the coming years.

The commission concluded that Belgacom did not have the technical ability to block access to its mobile wallets by restricting the use of its payment cards in such wallets. Belgacom would be unable to harm competing wallets by excluding those using a SIM-based secure element from accessing its SIM cards. Finally it was found that the joint venture would be unable to harm network operators competing with Belgacom by denying access to the its mobile wallet as because of numerous alternatives.