Mon, Dec 24, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers express worry about potential monopoly

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Legislators have expressed concerns about moves by the nation’s five major telecommunications carriers and EasyCard Corp to form a trust service management (TSM) company to branch out into mobile payment market, citing fears of a monopoly.

Mobile payments are payments made via a mobile device. Consumers can use mobile phones to pay for a wide range of services and goods.

The telecoms carriers in question include Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, Far EasTone Telecommunication (FET), Asia Pacific Telecom and Vibo Telecom.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said the nation is scheduled to issue four to six new licenses for fourth-generation (4G) telecoms services next year and newcomers to the market are encouraged to tender bids.

Two of the five telecoms carriers — Taiwan Mobile and FET — are in the same financial group as Taipei Fubon Bank and Far Eastern International Bank.

Tsai added that EasyCard has 30 million cards in circulation and is the nation’s largest supplier of transport cards.

He said a TSM between EasyCard and the five telecoms carriers would allow them to monopolize the mobile payment market and shut out competition.

He suggested that the government either manage the TSM itself or allow all interested parties to join, as European countries did.

In response, Fair Trade Commission spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) said the commission had received an application for the TSM and is currently reviewing it.

He said the commission would focus on whether the formation of such a company would hinder fair competition in the market.

“Regarding the TSM case, we will pay attention to the potential barriers to entering the market it might create,” Sun said.

“As legislator [Tsai] said, we want to see if other ways of payment can still coexist if the TSM is formed. From the cases we have seen in other countries, almost none of the similar organizations have yet to make any profit, However, it [mobile payment] may catch on in the future. We will handle the market barriers with special care,” Sun added.

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