It might not be fair to describe the mobile-payment initiatives in Europe as taking on a “monkey-see, monkey-do” mentality because, after all, competing projects are announced on a regular basis in the U.S. as well.

But Zil Bareisis, a London-based senior analyst with Celent, noted after last week’s announcement that MasterCard Worldwide and Deutsche Telekom AG are partnering in a mobile-payments project that at least a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses scenario exists in Europe.

The feeling is that Telekom was responding to a partnership between Visa Europe and Vodafone Group PLC announced in February that would bring a mobile-payment option to countries throughout Europe.

“Visa and MasterCard tend to make these ‘tit-for-tat’ moves in the digital space,” Bareisis contends.

Now Visa Europe on July 6 said it plans to partner with Telefónica Digital to drive mobile commerce in Europe for Telefónica subscribers by developing new products and services, including Near Field Communication technology and other mobile point-of-sale products.

Telefónica Digital is the business and research-development unit of Spanish telco Telefónica SA.

The Visa Europe announcement comes on the heels of Telefónica revealing July 5 it had established a mobile-payments partnership with various technology and social media providers.

It makes sense for Visa Europe to be engaged in such an overall boost to mobile commerce throughout Europe, considering Telefónica’s brands in Europe include O2 and Movistar and the company boasts of more than 103 million customers.

In addition, Telefonica understands the power of the Visa brand.

“Visa has been an important partner for a number of years in Europe, helping us to trial, test and ultimately launch mobile-payments products," Joaquin Mata, Telefónica Digital director of financial services, said in a press release. "This market has enormous untapped potential, and through this partnership with Visa Europe we aim to unlock significant new business opportunities.”

Telefónica and Visa Europe earlier collaborated on a mobile wallet service for United Kingdom subscribers, and the new announcement represents an expansion of that service to other markets, Mata noted.

Telefónica UK Ltd., or O2, continued to promote that mobile-wallet project in the UK mainly because its joint “Project Oscar” mobile-pay initiative with Vodafone and Everything Everywhere Ltd. was under regulatory scrutiny because of potential antitrust violations.

The Financial Times reported July 9 that the European Commission was prepared to approve Project Oscar, with the initiative moving forward as early as this summer. Commissioners and telco reps declined to comment in the story about the ruling or the investigation, which stemmed from complaints by British mobile network operator Three, or Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.

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