Project Oscar, the mobile wallet grouping between Vodafone, O2 and Everything Everywhere, has had the go ahead from the European Commission to develop a single mobile wallet platform hosting cards, coupons and transactional information on the SIM card.
If you think about it, the race for dominance in mobile wallets is rather like the Tour de France, or another of Bradley Wiggins' escapades. For a long time we've had a number of groups jostling for position - mobile network operators (MNOs), those from the
financial services industry, and retailers. A lead group has pulled away from the peloton. The MNOs have taken the lead.
So what does this mean? Do we now have a winner in the battle over mobile wallets in Europe?
First, although good news for the development of mobile wallets, the news around Project Oscar really only represents a gesture of intent. And as any pro cyclist can testify, the first breakaway never guarantees a win. In fact, sometimes it's hard to be out
in front; you've set yourself a target and, to a certain extent, many people are hoping you'll fall off your bicycle. One of the challenges of being out front is that you're a test case in many respects. If something's going to go wrong, the likelihood is
that it will happen to you. In the race to the mobile wallet, security is going to be important. Often with emerging technologies, the urgency of getting product to market is not aligned with a corresponding urgency for risk-management. But with the mobile
wallet, security needs to be paramount in whatever development happens next, as consumer expectations are high. Any perceived or actual failure in this area could be to Project Oscar's detriment.
The second impact of this breakaway, as any lead pack will tell you, is that it will spur on the followers and we may see more new developments in this area as a result.
This is not a short race. The way to a European standard for the mobile wallet is a test of endurance rather than a sprint. The opportunities that will be generated through the development of mobile wallets are immense and it's not just a case of racing headlong
in pursuit of quick market share. Just ask Wiggo.