Eyeing the huge potential of
providing basic payments services to millions of unbanked
consumers, Finnish mobile phone giant Nokia has launched Nokia
Money, a money transfer product it claims is as simple to use as
making a voice call or sending a text message.
“We believe mobile financial services offer a market opportunity
with long-term growth potential,” commented Nokia executive
vice-president and chief development officer Mary McDowell.
“With more than 4 billion mobile phone users and only 1.6 billion
bank accounts, global demand for access to financial services
presents a strong opportunity to combine mobile devices with simple
but powerful financial services such as Nokia Money,” she
Notably, Nokia Money is intended to function on all makes of mobile
phones and across all mobile networks.
Nokia Money will enable consumers to send money to another person
by using the person’s mobile phone number, to pay merchants, pay
utility bills and recharge prepaid mobile phone
Nokia is establishing a network of agents where consumers can
deposit money in or withdraw cash from their accounts.
For its foray into the mobile payments market, Nokia has teamed up
with US mobile payments technology developer Obopay which will
operate the service on its mobile payments platform in co-operation
In March 2009, Nokia made a strategic investment in Obopay which
appointed Teppo Paavola, vice-president and head of corporate
business development at Nokia, to its board of directors.
Endorsing Nokia’s entry into the mobile payments market,
consultancy Towergroup’s global head of research and chief analyst,
Bob Egan said: “Mobile financial services present a high growth
sector for Nokia.
“Nokia’s asset strengths, including consumer brand awareness,
distribution capabilities and global relationships, should serve as
logical and necessary extensions to drive innovation in the mobile
payments and banking sector.”
However, Egan also stressed: “To be successful Nokia must provide a
legitimate bridge between operators, bank networks and security
infrastructure in order to unlock the broad uptake of mobile
For Obopay, selection of its payments platform by Nokia represents
another significant development in its strategy of becoming one of
the major technology players in the global mobile payments and
Obopay made its first entry into the international market some 18
months ago with the launch of an instant money transfer service in
India, through an alliance between its wholly-owned subsidiary
Obopay India and YES Bank, an Indian private sector bank.
Following closely on its entry into India came the announcement
that MasterCard had chosen Obopay’s platform for its MoneySend
mobile phone-based person-to-person payments service to be offered
to MasterCard-issuing banks.
Termed the “breakthrough consumer payment platform” by MasterCard,
the service was launched in phases in 17 countries in its
Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa region followed by its launch
in the US at the end of May 2008.
A major attraction of Obopay’s solution is compatibility with all
mobile devices and all mobile carrier networks.
Obopay followed these developments in August 2008 with the
formation of an alliance with Grameen Solutions to launch the
Grameen-Obopay ‘Bank A Billion’ initiative, with the objective of
providing affordable banking services to a billion of the world’s
poorest people by 2018.
Grameen Solutions is part of group of profit and nonprofit
companies founded by Muhammad Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace
Prize for his work in improving living standards of the poor.
Winding up a successful year, Obopay announced in November 2008
that it had been selected by US payments processor Fidelity
National Information Services (FIS) to provide the platform its
entry into the mobile payments market.
The alliance holds the potential for FIS to offer a branded mobile
payments service to its substantial client base – which includes 40
of the 50 top global banks and totals 13,000 financial institutions
in more than 80 countries.
Overall, in the past year Obopay has certainly earned itself a
place among the leading technology contenders in the potentially
massive global mobile banking and payments market.