U.K. Cellphone Companies Plan Mobile Pay Venture

The U.K.’s three biggest wireless operators said Thursday that they would create a mobile-payment joint venture, entering the high-stakes scramble among wireless operators, tech firms and credit-card companies to popularize a way of making purchases with the wave of a cellphone.

Vodafone Group PLC, Telefonica SA’s O2 and Everything Everywhere said their new venture would create a “mobile wallet,” which cellphone owners can wave in front of censors to pay for goods. It also aims to establish a central portal for advertisers to deliver discounts and loyalty offers to participating U.K. cellphones.

The venture is scheduled to launch by the end of the year, subject to antitrust approval. Its unveiling comes just seven months after the U.S.’s biggest wireless operators—AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA—revealed their own mobile-payment joint venture, known as Isis. Google Inc. revealed a mobile-payment service last month.

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