Mobile commerce could become increasingly prevalent among online shoppers and users of parcel delivery services following the European Commission's unconditional approval of a joint venture between Vodafone, O2 and Everything Everywhere.
Dubbed Project Oscar, the partnership between the companies aims to provide a number of business solutions that could support the growth of m-commerce, including mobile wallets, analytics and marketing tools.
The European Commission examined the plans for a joint venture after rival networks had expressed concerns that it could create a monopoly within the market.
After an investigation spanning five months, the authority concluded that the alliance between the three companies will not result in a "significant impediment to effective competition" in the European Economic Area.
Announcing the decision, Joaquin Almunia, commission vice president in charge of competition policy, said mobile commerce is an emerging sector that has the potential to "radically change the consumer buying experience" over the coming years.
He added: "The proposed joint venture is one of several initiatives to develop the sector in Europe.
"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."
Everything Everywhere - which encompasses the Orange and T-Mobile networks - released a joint statement with O2 and Vodafone welcoming the unconditional clearance.
The companies said the venture was founded on a desire to bring to the UK market an "easy and effective" solution for businesses to provide mobile marketing and wallet services and for consumers to enjoy the benefits.
After hiring the necessary staff to get the new business up and running, the first step for the networks will be to develop a mobile marketing platform enabling retailers and agencies to launch campaigns that will reach millions of mobile users.
For internet shoppers and users of cheap parcel delivery services, the benefits of the initiative will include access to discounts and offers from brands that are relevant to them.
Author: Adrian Medland