Nokia Money - mobile financial services for the masses

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Nokia today introduced Nokia Money, a mobile financial service, which will offer basic financial management and payments from a mobile phone. It will allow you to send money to another person, using just their mobile phone number, pay for goods, services and bills or recharge pre-pad SIM cards. Financial services are widely considered a very significant market opprtunity for the future: there are 4 billion mobile phones, but only 1.6 billion bank accounts.

The service can be accessed via a voice call or SMS and will be available 24 hours a day. Nokia is currently building a wide network of Nokia Money agents, where it will be possible to deposit money or withdraw cash from accounts. This network will likely vary widely from country to country.

Nokia Money will be rolled out in selected markets, begining in early 2010. While Nokia will be keen to cover all markets, it is the emerging economies where Nokia may have the biggest market potential. In these countries, Nokia Money may be the first time they have access to such financial services - in other words, it is the 'unbanked' who have the most to gain.

“We believe mobile financial services offer a market opportunity with long term growth potential. In many countries, mobile phone ownership significantly exceeds bank account usage, suggesting that many mobile phone users have very limited or no access to basic financial services. 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”, said Mary McDowell, EVP and Chief Development Officer, Nokia.

“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”, said Teppo Paavola, VP and Head of Corporate Business Development, Nokia.

Initially the Nokia Money service will be operated in cooperation with Obopay. The service is based on Obopay's mobile payment platform, with 'unqiue and newly developed mobile elements'. It seems likely that this will include some kind of client application, or widget interface, that will ship with Nokia phones in select markets.

However, the Nokia press release also notes that Nokia 'intends the service to be open and interoperate with other payment services as well'. This suggests that there may be additional partners in the pipeline. This is sensible, as it unlikely that any one company will dominate globally. This is because financial services are typically very heavily regulated and partnership with local financial companies (banks) and local mobile operators will be almost essential.

"Nokia Money is the result of a powerful collaboration Nokia is forging between different partners in different markets around the world.  It is designed to work in partnership with mobile network operators and financial institutions, involving distributors and merchants in a dynamic ecosystem to seamlessly provide the new services."


Nokia recently invested around $70 million (estimated) in Obopay and took a minority stake in the company. The company has received total funding of around $126 miillion and other investors include Qualcomm, Citigroup, Societe Generale, Alliance Bernstein, Redpoint Ventures, Richmond Management, Essar Communications Holdings, Onset Ventures, Olayan and Promethean.

Obopay has a wholly owned Indian subsidiary, Obopay India, which has partnerships with some of the leading Indian mobile operators, including Aircel, BPL and Tata Indicom.

You can visit Obopay's website here and follow them on Twitter here.

Further information at Nokia World

The Nokia Money service will be demonstrated, for the first time, at Nokia World next week (September 2nd and 3rd 2009) in Stuttgart. Nokia is expected to reveal further details of the service and we'll be on hand to bring you live coverage.

See also: Nokia press release