UK mobile operators have welcomed the decision by the European Commission (EC) to approve its joint venture on mobile payments technology as a vital step in driving forward the take up of these services.
The EC was expected to unveil its approval at some point this week and on Wednesday morning the vice president in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia confirmed it would be given the green light.
"Mobile commerce is a nascent sector that may radically change the consumer buying experience in the next few years. The proposed joint venture is one of several initiatives to develop the sector in Europe," he said.
"The Commission is keen on promoting innovation in this area and ensuring that the markets remain open so that a number of competing solutions can emerge without undue obstacles, to the benefit of consumers."
The approval was welcomed by Everything Everywhere, O2 and Vodafone, who said it would help them work together to make mobile payments a common technology in use across the UK.
"At the heart of the joint venture is a desire to bring to the UK an easy and effective solution for businesses to create and for consumers to enjoy mobile marketing and wallet services," read a statement issued by the three firms.
"With EC clearance received, the job of getting the joint venture up and running as quickly as possible can begin, starting with the hiring of the necessary people and the creation of the new company."
The firms were keen to promote the economic benefits that working together on mobile payment technologies could have for consumers and businesses.
"It will remove a number of the barriers that currently inhibit growth It will provide a single contact point for media agencies, retailers and brands, enabling them to create campaigns that will reach millions of opted-in mobile users," they said.
"This will apply across the majority of handsets, operating systems and mobile operators. For consumers, this means they will be able to receive the discounts and offers that they want to receive from the brands that are relevant to them."
They added that the joint venture would also be open to other shareholders who wished to join, such as virtual network operators, publishers, banks, advertising agencies, retailers and other relevant firms.
The joint venture is a rare display of unity in the mobile market, where operators are currently fighting over access to 4G networks, with Vodafone and O2 furious that Everything Everywhere has been given the right to roll out networks early by Ofcom.
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