Cruickshank to oversee launch of UK m-payment venture Weve

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EE, O2, Vodafone venture aims to employ 150 by end of next year. The U.K.’s three biggest mobile operators said Tuesday that they have appointed entrepreneur Nancy Cruickshank to oversee the launch of their mobile marketing and payment joint venture, Weve, in the new year.

Weve is a collaboration between Vodafone Group PLC, Telefonica S.A.’s U.K. unit O2, and EE, which combines the T-Mobile and Orange brands. It aims to marshal data from their combined customer base to roll out innovative mobile advertising services to U.K. retailers, banks and travel companies. It will also develop mobile wallet and discount voucher services.

The venture, previously known as Project Oscar, was unveiled by the three mobile operators last year in June, but its launch was held up by opposition from the U.K.’s fourth-biggest mobile operator Three U.K.

Mrs. Cruickshank, 41, has worked in the digital industry for around 20 years. She set up handbag.com, a fashion, beauty and health website, which was subsequently sold to media company Hearst Corp.’s U.K. business, Hearst Magazines UK for GBP22 million in 2006.

Last year she founded MyShowcase, a business selling independent beauty products at private events in homes and offices. She also holds non-executive roles at advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty and media company Glam Media Inc.

Weve underscores how mobile operators are scrambling to develop new revenue streams and avoid being pushed out of the mobile marketing business by technology giants, such as Google Inc. and Apple Inc.

Weve’s three shareholders have 65 million U.K. mobile customers between them, accounting for 80% of the local mobile market. Each Weve shareholder has invested “tens of millions”, according to Mrs Cruickshank, who joined Weve in May.

Weve has around 20 employees so far, but the number will rise to 150 or so by the end of next year, according to Ms Cruickshank. A long-term chief executive will be sought for the company once it is up and running, Mrs Cruickshank said.