EC Gives OK to Spanish Mobile Commerce Venture (Aug. 15, 2013)
Aug. 15, 2013
A mobile commerce partnership between Spanish telecom provider Telefónica and two Spanish banks has been given the green light by the European Commission (EC), paving the way forward for what the companies are calling Europe’s first full joint venture between financial institutions and telecom operators. In its ruling, the EC said there was sufficient market competition in the areas in which the partnership plans to operate in Spain, including digital wallets, P2P payments and digital advertising.
Announced in May, the venture between Telefónica, CaixaBank and Santander intends to develop “business opportunities based on the latest mobile and communication technologies.” The JV’s first move is to create an online community to link merchants and consumers by enabling retailers to offer deals, discounts and promotions. After that, the venture will develop a digital wallet to enable users to make purchases within the online community and send P2P payments to other community members using only the recipient’s phone number. The group has the potential to reach 600,000 users in Spain alone, but also plans to expand internationally in the near term.
While the newly approved partnership is the first full telecom-FI joint venture in Europe, the past two years have seen a spate of FIs and telecoms working together to carve out a space in the European mobile commerce market. In July 2012, MasterCard and Deutsche Telekom announced a partnership that would offer mobile payment capability to the latter firm’s 93 million European customers. The previous February, U.K.-based Vodafone and Visa unveiled a plan to offer a mobile wallet to the telecom operator’s nearly 400 million users worldwide. Another European wallet venture, Weve (formerly Project Oscar), was approved by the EC in September 2012 after several months of uncertainty during which rivals claimed it would stifle competition because it involved the U.K.’s three largest mobile networks.