Nokia yesterday introduced a new mobile money service targeted at unbanked users in emerging markets, in the latest move by the world’s largest handset vendor to diversify into services. ‘Nokia Money’ will allow consumers to send money using only a mobile phone number, as well as to pay merchants for goods and services, pay utility bills, or recharge prepaid SIM cards. Nokia said it is building a wide network of Nokia Money agents, where consumers can deposit money in or withdraw cash from their accounts. Nokia said the service would be targeted at consumers who currently have no access to traditional 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, Nokia’s EVP and chief development officer.
The Nokia Money service will be operated in cooperation with Obopay, a leader in developing global mobile payment solutions, which Nokia invested in earlier this year. The service is based on Obopay’s mobile payment platform. Nokia intends the service to be open and interoperable with other payment services. “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,” said Bob Egan, global head of research and chief analyst at Towergroup. “To be successful Nokia must provide a legitimate bridge between operators, banks networks and security infrastructure in order to unlock the broad uptake of mobile financial services.” The service will be shown for the first time at next week’s Nokia World event in Stuttgart, Germany. It is planned to be rolled out gradually to selected markets, beginning early next year.