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Three seeks intervention over m-commerce monopoly

13 December 2011 - 09:25 by Paul Tissington

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UK mobile network provider Three is the smallest of the country's major firms and it has contacted the European Commission to complain about a new m-commerce venture, which involves its three rivals and from which it is excluded.

Three believes that the m-commerce partnership between O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere, the latter of which includes the Orange and T-Mobile brands, will be anti-competitive because it is not being given a role within the group.

The aim of the m-commerce cabal is to unify the way that mobile users in the UK are targeted by advertising and also to make mobile payments easier to process when people carry out safe shopping online from their smartphones, or access NFC terminals when on the go.

Three spokesperson, Stephen Lerner, said that NFC was being seen as the next big thing in the mobile industry, but with three organisations preventing one rival from joining in with its development as a platform in the UK, it was clear that there would be competition issues.

In short, it seems that Vodafone, O2 and Everything Everywhere will be joining forces to pool all NFC transactions from multiple card companies through a single body.

NFC chips are becoming available in a growing number of phones and services, like Google Wallet, which will allow users to make digital transactions without having to use a traditional payment card, just like they would via safe shopping online.

Three controls just 10 per cent of the UK's mobile phone market, which would mean that the combined might of its rivals would easily overwhelm and outgun it, should the NFC monopoly be allowed to go ahead by the EC.

Competition is good for consumers because it means they will have a choice when it comes to using services and could save them money, but in a perfect world it would be best for Three to get a say in the evolution of m-commerce technology.