Mobile Money is reaching a tipping point in the US. I just returned from traveling around the world meeting with bankers discussing their successes with mobile. All the bankers I talked to are working on mobile banking. But it isn’t just about the rest of world anymore – it’s happening here in the US as well and it is changing everything.
Today Obopay announced a new offering, Mobile Money for Banks. US banks are beginning to understand how big and transformational mobile will be for their business. And Obopay has developed a bank offering that benefits from our innovation on three continents. It gives the banks what they need to have a strong innovative offering and provides it in a way that they can do a very fast, low cost implementation with a complete mobile money transaction set. 1 month to advanced bank branded mobile money which includes mobile applications, web widgets, and most sought after consumer use cases. Mobile payments have reached a tipping point.
The offering is way beyond bank transfer (repackaging ACH) and traditional niche P2P services. It includes a number of industry firsts for mobile payments, all based on successful use cases we have experienced: the ability for small sellers and cash based merchants to get paid through mobile phone, website or email; instant payments from one family member to another; and P2Ps that are instant and optimized for a mobile experience. Analysts and our primary research confirms that banks must act now to implement a mobile payment program or risk losing this revenue stream to their competitors or non –traditional providers like Paypal, Apple or Mobile Carriers. With Mobile Money for Banks we are giving them the ability to lead not follow.
It is also the culmination of years of experience and these products are a natural extension of our company strategy, since we have been working with banks some time now. Thus far the response has been very positive as we have shared the details with our banks, channel partners like MasterCard and FIS, and with press and analysts.
We have heard the message from our banking partners regarding what they really want – and we have provided it:
- Bank branded and controlled
- Easy and swift implementation
- Inexpensive solution
I am really excited about the market opportunity and our new offering. Mobile Money will be $630B market according to Jupiter by 2014 – and mobile has a track record of being faster and bigger than anyone ever predicts. Proud of our offering and excited to work with banks.
May 11th, 2010
CEO Carol Realini on What’s Next with Obopay and Mobile Payments
Carol Realini, CEO Obopay, Inc.
Carol Realini is the driving force behind Obopay which has allowed customers to send and receive money through mobile phone SMS since 2005. In this exclusive NEXTcast interview, Realini reveals Obopay’s strategy to bring mobile payments to the masses. Listen to the interview
March 9th, 2010
“We live in a world where human problems do not come permanently attached to national passports” – Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. In this rapidly changing world we need moments where we pause, step outside our traditional paths, try to connect the dots. This is the essence of the Spirit of Davos.
In the last ten years I have had the privilege to meet with top management from mobile and financial industry players, meet with Dr. Yunus (Nobel Peace Prize winner), interact with political and government leaders in various forums. This rubbing shoulders with powerful and influential people has prepared me somewhat for Davos.
That being said, I am anxious about how to best contribute as well as leverage this type of event. I have been told it is non-stop sessions from 7 AM until late hours of the evening. My objective is to orient myself quickly once I am on the ground and determine how to best engage. I have a “Davos Buddy”, Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Brightcove, who I meet with at the beginning of the conference. His role is to help me quickly orient and understand how to get the most out of Davos.
My companion at Davos
Attendees can’t bring other people from their company – the invitation is to the individual only; others won’t get passes for access to the sessions and even physical access into the area where the event takes place. Attendees can bring their spouses and spouses are full participants at the conference. My husband, Joe Tumminaro, doesn’t normally accompany me on business trips. He loves to travel but doesn’t want to be in interesting places but have me work and he then has to enjoy those places by himself. Not to mention he hates being called Mr. Realini.
Joe made an exception to his rule for WEF. He has many passions and is interested in environmental, security, and humanitarian issues – and of course he is passionate about Obopay. He will not only attend some of the sessions with me but also he plans to go to some I cannot. I have asked him to help me with this blog once we get to the conference so our blog followers can benefit. He has agreed.
Joe and I came to Switzerland a few days early so we could sightsee and get over jetlag. We are in St. Moritz now where the weather is incredible. Sunday we skied and on Monday we will visit a few surrounding towns and a sledge run from Preda to Bergun (over 6 kilometers) – what a treat.
Goals for Davos.
Learn new things; especially gain insights on how to best address the world’s most challenging problems.
Contribute to the dialogue; this includes making sure the attendees understand the power of mobile banking and payments and how that might be applied to some of the challenges we face.
Build relationships; especially interested in establishing connections with attendees who are potential distribution partners and government allies.
Build awareness; Make sure attendees are aware of mobile money and its potential role in addressing world challenges.
Schedule for the First 24 Hours
- Welcome reception
- Tech Pioneers Welcome Dinner and Awards Ceremony.
- Rethinking Security in the 21st Century – Joe
- Growing influence of Social Networks – Carol
- Business Solutions to Rural Poverty – Carol and Joe
- Rise of Asia – Carol and Joe
If we can fit them in
- Who is the new consumer?
- Rethinking Values
January 26th, 2010
World Economic Forum – Davos 2010
My blog for the WEF – Day 1, Part 2 .
My self-assigned role is to represent the technologist, entrepreneur and mobile money communities.
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffective, concerning all acts of initiative and creation…Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now” – Goethe
Klaus Schwab sent me a book and a note to provide more background on the World Economic Forum. He invited me to review the survey of the key issues which preoccupied humanity over the last 40 years. As I fly to the World Economic Forum, I read this review and think about what I look forward to and who I look forward to meeting in Davos. I am a technologist, entrepreneur, mobile money evangelist – and my self-assigned role is to represent those communities well as I engage with world leaders at the 2010 World Economic Forum (WEF).
This meeting marks the 40th year of the forum founded in 1971 as the European Management Forum, renamed in 1987 the World Economic Forum reflecting the Forum’s expanded scope. From its modest beginnings of bringing European corporate managers together to discuss business strategies, it is now the world’s foremost multi-stakeholder event addressing the most pressing global issues.
This Forum, with the realities of the after effects of the global economic crisis and the disaster in Haiti, will focus on rebuilding. For the economic crisis – the Global Redesign Initiative is a key platform of discussion – reviewing institutions and practices of global governance and corporate activity to better tackle the challenges of globalization. Although not a part of the original agenda, they have recently added Haiti relief and recovery to the key topics for this meeting.
I look forward to the many dialogues and want to understand how mobile financial services and technology can play a role in both the global economic recovery and the specific challenges of Haiti. This is already happening on a small scale – mobile money in Asia and Africa has already begun to provide banking to millions of underserved people. Also in Haiti, “mobile text giving” (text to a short code to donate $10 to the Red Cross for Haiti – charges show up on your phone bill) has helped ease mass-individual giving to the Red Cross in the US. How can regulators, governments, and corporations help these solutions quickly scale to increase their global impact? Awareness is key since many important stakeholders are still not aware of the full potential.
The Power of Convening.
When I retired in 2000, I moved to Aspen Colorado , home to the Aspen Institute. It is a convening organization which year round hosts events that bring together people from around the world to study and discuss world topics. I experienced first hand the power of convening. It fosters education about the most important issues, trends, and questions of our time. It fosters creation – since the people and relationships have indirect impacts since they were changed by the dialogue and the relationships that developed during their time at the Aspen Institute. These connections may not ever occur without this opportunity to come together in a safe open discussion. The fact is, without these types of forums these people would not normally be connecting – building relationships, crossing traditional boundaries, developing greater understanding.
I imagine Davos as the Aspen Institute on steroids. I looked at the attendee list – CEO’s of fortune 100 companies, senators, presidents, heads of central banks, heads of major foundations, nobel peace prize winners, great social entrepreneurs. I look forward to meeting many of these people in person.
Hello Mr/Ms. President – have you heard about the potential of Mobile Banking?
Here are a few of the Presidents/CEO’s that I hope to meet personally . As you can see from this list – this is a great networking opportunity but also intimidating even to a seasoned networker like me:
AT&T INC. Randall L. Stephenson
BARCLAYS PLC Robert E. Diamond Jr
BHARTI AIRTEL LIMITED Manoj Kohli
BHARTI ENTERPRISES Sunil Bharti Mittal
DEUTSCHE BANK AG Anshu Jain
FACEBOOK INC. Sheryl Sandberg
FACEBOOK INC. Mark Zuckerberg
GOLDMAN SACHS Peter D. Sutherland
ICICI BANK LTD Chanda Kochhar
JPMORGAN CHASE & CO. James Dimon
Anyone have any great ideas on how to break the ice with world leaders, please send me your thoughts. I have a WEF buddy who I meet with on day 1 of the event. Maybe he can make some suggestions. On my next blog I’ll talk more about my agenda and the session topics, also Joe Tumminaro’s (my husband, pictured below) thoughts about attending the Forum with me.
January 22nd, 2010
Q: Tell us about Obopay and why are you, the CEO of Obopay attending the World Economic Forum
Obopay is a mobile banking and payments provider. We are based in the US and India. We are recognized as a early leader in the rapidly expanding financial services sector delivering services via the mobile phone. The opportunity is massive – 4B phones but only 1.6 B bank accounts. Obopay gives those with bank accounts added convenience and those traditionally underserved access to affordable secure banking and electronic payments.
I am attending the World Economic Forum because they have recognized Obopay as a technology pioneer. Obopay is receiving an award at this annual event in Davos.
Q: What is the World Economic Forum?
The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a Geneva-based non-profit foundation best known for its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland which brings together top business leaders, international political leaders, selected intellectuals and journalists to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world including health and the environment. The World Economic Forum was founded in 1971 by Klaus M. Schwab, a business professor in Switzerland. Beyond meetings, the Forum produces a series of research reports and engages its members in sector specific initiatives. Regular attendees at annual meeting include Bill and Melinda Gates.
Q: What happens at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting?
It is non-stop sessions on a variety of key global topics. In the evenings there are private events hosted by Presidents of countries and CEO’s of Fortune 50 companies. The convening of such a top level global group – spanning government, corporate, thinkers/academics, and entrepreneurs – is unique and powerful
Q: What is the theme of this year’s Annual Meeting?
The 40th anniversary of the Annual Meeting is a defining moment for world leaders as they meet under the theme “Improve the State of the World: Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild”. Over 2,500 leaders from over 90 countries representing business, government and civil society will work together on pressing challenges. “We must look at the Meeting in the context of what’s happening in the world and we see that the present system of global cooperation is not working sufficiently,” said Klaus Schwab. Haiti will feature on the agenda: “We hope we can present a major common effort to the world community showing true corporate global citizenship in Davos,” he said.
Q: Who attends?
This is a very exclusive event. It is by invitation only and even the most powerful and influential people in the world may not be invited every year. – must be a member or invited to attend. All attendees have security checks and there is no dropping by Davos. I went in 2003 to help with a Global Giving private evening event. I thought that I would be allowed to listen into a few sessions – no way. If you were not an official attendee you were not allowed to participate.
Q. Why is Obopay going to the WEF?
Every year WEF recognizes approximately 20 technology pioneers and asks them to attend Davos. This year there were 26 companies recognized – of those 11 were IT companies, the rest were health, energy, or other. We were the only financial services company recognized this year.
Q: What are some of the sessions Obopay will be attending.
We are invited to most of the sessions at WEF – There are about 5 different sessions going on at anytime during the 4 day conference. I haven’t decided all the sessions I will attend. Below are ones I am committed to attending so far. My husband, Joe Tumminaro, is attending and he can attend sessions also.
With all the compelling topics, we plan on splitting up frequently so we can cover 2 sessions at once and then brief each other. In future blogs we will give more details about our plans and then our experiences.
My agenda so far is …
Tuesday 26 January
20.00 – 22.00 Private Dinner entitled Technology Pioneers Welcome Dinner and Awards Ceremony 2010 (Technology Pioneers meeting for Annual Meeting)
Thursday 28 January
8.30 – 10.15 Interactive Session entitled From Pioneers to Champions (Technology Pioneers meeting for Annual Meeting)
14.30 – 16.30 Workshop entitled Redesigning with Technology Pioneers
19.00 – 20.00 Your Private Session entitled Schwab Foundation 10-Year Anniversary Reception (Private Events for Annual Meeting)
Friday 29 January
8.00 – 10.15 Interactive Session entitled The Dynamic Duo (Technology Pioneers meeting for Annual Meeting)
14.30 – 16.45 WorkSpace entitled Advancing Models for Mobile Financial Services (Industry Partnership Meeting for Telecommunications)
Saturday 30 January
14.30 – 15.30 Session entitled Technology Pioneers Wrap-Up (Technology Pioneers meeting for Annual Meeting)
January 22nd, 2010
Why did you start Obopay?
The idea for mobile phones to serve as the catalyst to deliver financial services was seeded when I was on a trip in Africa to support social entrepreneurs. I was in Congo (DRC), where the infrastructure was inadequate – power, roads, electricity. Yet in a place where so little worked, mobile phones were connecting large numbers of people who never had a land line.
This was in 2002, when there were only about 1.5 billion mobile phones in the world. It wasn’t obvious to me before that trip, but once I saw how people in Africa were using mobile phones, it became clear that sometime soon everyone in the world would be connected via the mobile phone. Today, there are more than 4 billion people with mobile phones, out of a total world population of 6 billion people. I knew that this was going to transform the world of communications.
Why mobile payments and mobile banking?
When I got home from Africa, I couldn’t stop thinking about mobile phones and banking. It was a simple idea – use the soon-to-be-ubiquitous model phone network to deliver financial services to everyone with a mobile phone. This would give everyone with a mobile phone access to basic banking services –savings, credit and electronic payments.
The idea had two dimensions – first, mobilizing the existing banking products, and second, developing new low cost mobile- based services that would be affordable to the underserved. The potential was huge – about 1 billion traditional consumers and 3 billion underserved. And connecting the two was key since so many of the traditional consumers send money to the underserved.
But, you were in retirement, no?
I was retired from technology, but helping non-profits foster entrepreneurship in developing countries. This non-profit work gave me easy access to other people who were thinking about the potential of mobile financial services. Many connections really came from the microfinance community, they were always talking about technology to propel things forward and mobile payments was one of the special topics at microfinance conferences.
It was not my plan to go back to work. After finishing extensive research, the founding team came together to make our idea a reality. We saw our careers in a different context – the three of us felt very passionate about the potential of mobile financial services and saw our past careers as great preparation for building Obopay.
What’s the connection between what you experienced in the Congo and what you started in the U.S.?
The connection is everyone needs banking. In places like the US, most people have good access – although there is still a large segment of our population that is underbanked (overcharged and underserved). In the U.S., we can give people banking and payments via mobile and do a better job at a lower price for the underserved. For emerging markets/developing countries where the banking infrastructure can be quite weak, mobile will leap frog traditional approaches and be the primary way people do banking.
In most places in the world, the simple act of paying a merchant or holding money you have in a bank is not easy to do and the impact on small business, individuals and families is huge. And, it has all sorts of impact on the economy, personal family and small business success.
What background work did you do to understand the market opportunity what drove you forward to start Obopay?
We did quite a lot of global research to understand what early projects were happening in the world – Korea, Philippeans and Africa. At the time, the most advanced mobile money implementations were in Japan and the Philippines. These implementations were just beginning and were local to those markets but demonstrated the potential. Since then, there have been other successes and proof points, but it was that research project (again I was not going to go back to work) that really propelled me forward to start Obopay. At the end of the research project, I read the research report. At the beginning of reading the research report, my career was behind me and at the end of the research report, my career was in front of me. I got so excited and passionate about the opportunity to leverage the growing number of mobile phones to enable financial services, I just had to come out of retirement and start Obopay.
What did you think would happen with the research if you didn’t start Obopay?
I don’t really know. I thought we would publish the research or maybe get some entrepreneur to take it on. If we just published the research we would never know the full impact of disseminating the information. I probably would have stayed living in Aspen with my husband and become a really great skier. But, that wouldn’t have been nearly as exciting as Obopay. At Obopay, we have the opportunity to empower people’s lives and change the way businesses transact. What could be more meaningful?
In Part 2, we’ll hear from Carol about the “early days of Obopay,” surprising feedback from early investors, and how the Company’s partnerships evolved.
December 1st, 2009
According to a recent Bloomberg article by Joseph Galante, “EBay expects PayPal to eventually become its biggest business, with revenue reaching $5 billion by 2011.” That’s a good sign for web and mobile payments.
Recognizing how mobile payments will growth beyond the U.S., Obopay last month appointed Dilip Nagaraja as its Executive Vice-President of Global Engineering.
Quoted in the Business Standard, Obopay CEO Carol Realini said “Dilip will strategically guide the company’s technical direction as we continue to develop state-of-the-art mobile payment products and drive our business to newer heights in the developed and emerging markets.”
October 21st, 2009