By Richard Britton, managing director, CloudSense
The decision by the European Commission last week to give the go ahead to Project Oscar, the UK mobile-payments joint venture, is of great significance to the European telecoms market and is good news for EU consumers.
The collaboration between EE, O2 and Vodafone will form one of the most significant entries into the m-payments market and provide serious competition to rival offerings from the likes of Barclaycard and Visa.
To have significant networks committing to a single framework is also likely to provide the consumer with a convenient route into the complex world of m-payments and speed up its adoption not only in the UK but across the EU.
Consumers have yet to truly take to m-payments, but it remains a question of when rather than if, with EE, O2 and Vodafone now well placed to take the lead in its adoption.
However, all three operators must now carry out a difficult balancing act.
To stay competitive they must ensure that the solution is rolled out relatively soon and at the same time ensure that the venture is ready for public use.
Ideally there would be a period of consolidation from the companies involved that would allow them to carefully consider their implementation strategies.
Rushing into a deployment of the technology could backfire on the participants if the technical aspects of the collaboration such as security and functionality are not addressed adequately.
One of the crucial factors that will help determine the success of the project is in ensuring that the back office for each operator can cope with the new demands placed on them.
For example, they will need to effectively integrate the m-payments offering into their back office operations and deliver a seamless mobile experience to demanding customers.
To cope with this integration into the plethora of legacy systems belonging to all the operators, a traditional approach would be capital intensive and not provide the speed to market they need.
Instead, the operators should implement cloud order management solutions that are comprehensive enough to track all customer interactions.
Each customer interaction will be channelled to the relevant operator, via a closed platform environment, where the combination of event and customer type will drive specific back office actions.
In addition, the use of cloud technology will allow for scalability when the operators experience peak demand as well as opening up additional marketing opportunities for partners.
Once this unified order management system is in place and is shown to work effectively, potential partners will have the confidence to commit and invest into the framework, increasing the momentum behind it.
Further, ensuring that there is enthusiasm for the project from a range of partners will be crucial in generating widespread consumer uptake and ultimately determining the overall success of the project.
What must be remembered though is that approval was given as the European Commission felt that there was sufficient competition in the market already.
Project Oscar will have to compete with existing offerings from Barclaycard and Visa in addition to mobile wallets from Google and PayPal due to arrive in the near future.
It will be successful if it gets its solution to the market quickly and provides customers with a joined-up experience.
With strong brands that have a ubiquity of market coverage in the UK already committed, it is likely to be a very difficult proposition to beat.