Earlier today, Nokia announced that it was launching Nokia Money, a new payment service powered by Obopay that allows users to send money to friends, merchants, and service companies simply by using their phone numbers. The service will be showcased in early September at the Nokia World conference, with plans to roll it out to select markets in 2010.
As we wrote when news broke of Obopay’s $70 million funding round (of which Nokia was a major participant in), one of the biggest markets for this technology is in regions like India, where many people have phones with pre-paid SIM cards but don’t have bank accounts. And judging by Nokia’s press release, which emphasizes that there are “4 billion mobile phone users and only 1.6 billion bank accounts”, the company seems to agree. From the release:
“Rural consumers will particularly benefit from money transfers and, for urban consumers used to online services, we are enabling services such as payment of utility bills, purchase of train and movie tickets, top-ups, all through their mobile phones. Nokia Money is simple to use, secure and available across different operator networks and on virtually any mobile phone. This means millions of new consumers will soon be able to manage all their financial needs from their mobile phone”
Nokia will hardly be the only player in these emerging markets — other competitors include mChek and Paymate. We’ve also seen some alternative payment models like Aryty, which allows users in the US to remotely charge up the mobile accounts of family and friends in India and the Philippines.
Stateside, the technology will also likely see some success, though it will be competing with a variety of other payment methods, and US users haven’t been nearly as quick at adopting mobile payments as customers in other regions have been. Nokia’s release notes that while the technology will be based on Obopay, it will be making a number of improvements and will allow the payment service to interoperate with competing services.