Nokia today confirmed its ambition to move into the services sector with the launch of Nokia Money, a mobile financial service that allows consumers with mobile devices to access basic financial services.
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Mary McDowell, Nokia's chief development officer, said the world had four billion mobile phones but only 1.6 billion bank accounts.
Nokia plans to roll out the service gradually to selected markets, beginning in early 2010.
"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. This suggests that many mobile phone users have very limited or no access to basic financial services," she said.
Nokia has tied up and invested in the US online payments service Obopay. Nokia Money is based on Obopay's mobile payment platform, with unique and newly developed mobile elements. Nokia intends the service to be open and interoperable with other payment services too.
Obopay's prepaid cards are issued by the Bancorp Bank under license from MasterCard International Incorporated. Its partners include Citibank, AT&T, Verizon and Research in Motion (BlackBerry).
Nokia Money will run around the clock and let consumers send money to another person just by using that person's mobile phone number. They can pay merchants for goods and services, pay their utility bills, or recharge their prepaid SIM cards.
Nokia is building a network of Nokia Money agents, where consumers will be able to deposit money or withdraw cash from their accounts.
Nokia's head of corporate business development Teppo Paavola said rural consumers will benefit particularly from money transfers. "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," he said.
The service will be shown for the first time at Nokia World, 2-3 September 2009 in Stuttgart, Germany.