Nokia enters increasingly crowded mobile money market

Services will work on both Nokia and other phones

Nokia is getting ready to launch Nokia Money, which will offer basic financial services on mobile phones, it said on Wednesday.

It will enable consumers to send money, pay for goods, services and bills, and recharge their prepaid SIM cards, according to Nokia.

Some Nokia phones will have the necessary client pre-installed, but users will also be able download and install the client on Nokia phones and devices from other vendors, said to Nokia spokesman Mark Durrant.

It is also building a network of agents, where consumers will be able to deposit or withdraw cash from their accounts.

Nokia has previously been a proponent of using NFC (Near Field Communication) -- a wireless communication technology with a range of a few inches -- for contactless payments.

The first Money services -- which will be operated in cooperation with mobile payment company Obopay, whose platform will be used -- are planned to be rolled out in selected markets in the beginning of 2010, Nokia said in a statement, without elaborating.

But before that it will be demonstrated at Nokia World on Sept. 2 and 3 in Stuttgart, Germany.

Nokia is far from the only company pushing mobile money services.

The huge interest in mobile payment systems has a simple explanation: with more than 4 billion mobile phone users and only 1.6 billion bank accounts worldwide, mobile money services represent a big opportunity to combine the two, according to Nokia.

One of the most successful ones is Vodafone's M-PESA money transfer service, which now has 7 million customers in Kenya and is also offered in Tanzania and Afghanistan.

Last week Vodafone named a new director of mobile payments, Cenk Serdar. One of Serdar's first priorities will to introduce M-PESA in more markets, Vodafone has said.

The credit-card companies are also getting onboard. MasterCard is also working with Obopay and plans to offer person-to-person money transfer via mobile phones with its MoneySend service in the U.S.

Nokia wants to make its Money offerings interoperable with other financial services, according to Durrant.

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Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
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