Mobile wallet and marketing JV greenlit

Vodafone, Everything Everywhere and O2 have received ‘unconditional clearance’ from the European Commission (EC) to form a mobile advertising and commerce joint venture (JV).

Joint Venture Brands

The move means the three biggest mobile operators in the UK will create a single point of contact for advertisers, retailers, media agencies and banks to book advertising space on their platforms or create offers, coupons, tickets or loyalty cards to sit in their “mobile wallet” offerings.

The JV’s mobile marketing platform will be the first part of the business brought to the market. It will provide one stop shop for brands to create push SMS, coupons and display ads to reach opted-in users across the three company’s platforms.

Observers have said the move will have a damaging impact on the strength of existing ad networks and publishers’ mobile offerings and that it is an an attempt to “control” the market by making a “landgrab” of the entire segment.

The JV says it has the potential to “transform the mobile marketing landscape in the UK” by removing the barriers to entry that “inhibit growth”.

The company will then make its mobile payments business available. It says this will enable businesses to add payment and loyalty cards to millions of consumers on the majority of handsets, operating systems and operators.

It adds that consumers will be rewarded with a “simple and secure shopping experience”, by allowing them to purchase goods and services through their mobiles using contactless technology.

Marketing Week sister title New Media Age revealed earlier this year that former Telegraph Media Group and Hearst Digital director Nancy Cruikshank is leading the joint venture as its “interim CEO”.

The joint venture, which is as yet unnamed, can now begin the process of hiring further staff to operate the new company.

The shareholders say in a statement that they remain committed to making the JV’s services open to all, including other operators, MVNOs, publishers, banks, retailers and ad agencies.

They adds: “The partners in the JV believe it has an important role to play in helping to keep the UK at the forefront of digital innovation, creating jobs, promoting innovation and stimulating competition.”

Last year rival mobile operator Three sent informal representation to the European Commission in a bid to block the joint venture from being approved, arguing it was “anti-competitive” and would curb innovation in the market.

A Three spokesperson said: “We are pleased the EC has taken a thorough look at the proposed m-commerce joint venture. We are still studying the detail but we understand that its investigation has found no significant competition issues.  We will continue to monitor developments closely and look forward to the invitation to become a customer of the joint venture on the same terms as all participating UK mobile operators.”

Click here to see why industry insiders think the JV’s proposed mobile ads one stop shop could stifle the segment

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