A plan by most major UK mobile phone operators to launch an industry-wide scheme for customers to make purchases using their phones looks set to be delayed by European officials.
The plan is the work of O2, Vodafone, and Everything Everywhere (which owns both T-Mobile and Orange.) Their idea was to combine forces to launch a new company that would allow users of all networks to make mobile payments through the same system.
The plan would work on near field communications, a wireless technology similar to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi that works only over a few centimetres, reducing the risk of interception. Users would link their handset to a debit or credit card account.
The European Commission was required to examine the proposals because of the risk for unfair market domination. It had initially been expected to approve the plans right away but it now seems likely it will carry out a fuller investigation. Although mobile operator Three had complained about the plan, in which it was not included, this isn't thought to be the reason for the delay.
The move means it is now highly unlikely that the companies will achieve their target of getting the system in operation before the London Olympics.