Thursday, September 29, 2005

Telco's blame Dutch banks for end of Simpay..?

The Dutch newswebsite writes an article on mobile operators that blame the Dutch banks that the mobile operators can't get a foothold in payments. It's an interesting read given that:
-Vodafone and KPN could have chosen to continue Simpay rather than stop it...
-both companies are already highly active in this market,
-more than 1 million phone-minutes occur every day
-more sms-payments occur than e-purse payments,
-the mobile operators themselves have blocked new players as moxmo and digipay from entering the market of mobile phone payments.

So what's up...? I think it's an effort of mobile operators to ensure attention for the review of the e-money directive. The operators want to codify the current under-the-desk-exemption-regime for mobile operators in the text of the new e-money directive. This regime essentially means that supervisors look the other way and do not apply the regular banking and payment rules to the mobile industry (while applying those rules to any other player who wants to do exactly the same... Paypal for instance). And they use publicity and lobby to ensure that the Ministries of Finance and EU Commission (who bought into this back-room deal) can point at the operator's position to legitimize this codified exemption in the new e-money directive.

If that strategy really works, the real rules of the European game essentially are that it pays to ignore formal EU-rules if you make sure that you strike a behind-the-doors deal with regulators and supervisors. All formal speeches by McCreevy, Kroes can then be viewed as smokescreens of bureaucrats who essentially care for their own position rather than for a Europe which is based on open, true competition and transparant regulators that simply do what they're told by parliament (rather than striking back-office deals without involving parliament).