THE UK’s largest telecoms companies are making headway in bringing cashless payment via mobile phone to the masses, as the cluster intends to file an application with the European Commission (EC) soon.
Orange and T-Mobile (under umbrella group Everything Everywhere) joined forces with Vodafone and O2 parent Telefonica last year with the aim of creating a single platform on which mobile payment systems could run.
After a drawn out period of consultation with the regulatory authorities, the telco consortium is expected to ask Brussels for official approval in the next two weeks after original plans to file before Christmas were delayed.
The EC would then have six weeks to approve or dismiss the application.
The joint venture wants to create a company, with its own chief executive and management body, to act as a “one-stop shop” between banks and the three telcos for the development of a single standard and base platform for mobile payment services.
But Three, the only major network excluded from the consortium, is likely to flag competition concerns with the EC. Holding 10 per cent of the market, Three spoke out against the project last year.
A source close to the deal explained to City A.M. that Three was not included in the group as it could not bring comparative offerings of customer base, experience or technology to the table – unlike Orange, for example, which already offers the QuickTap cashless payment service on certain handsets, and O2, which has been trialling its Mobile Wallet application for some time.
The imminently expected UK release of Google Wallet, the cashless payments mobile app currently available in the US, and a prime opportunity for customers to receive revenues from this summer’s Olympic Games, adds an element of time pressure to the networks’ project.