We just launched the first commercial version of the Nokia Money in India. Read about it here.
The launch is starting with a commercial pilot in Pune, which is one of the country’s largest metropolitan areas in the region. It is being offered in partnership with Yes Bank and is being called Mobile Money Service by Yes Bank powered by Nokia. It’s the comprehensive service which allows you to transfer money to another person just by using the person’s mobile phone number, pay bills, as well as recharge your prepaid SIM cards.
We’re also working to enable consumers to pay merchants for goods and services in the next few months.
What is so special about your service offering?
In many ways our offering with Nokia and Yes Bank are taking mobile payments and banking to the next level. This new service is one of the most comprehensive services available in the market. It’s going to change the game for mobile payments. Obopay brings operating experience with mobile payments from around the world. The offering combines Nokia’s retail reach, brand awareness, and handset expertise to provide unparalleled access and ease of use for these services. Additionally, the service offers a comprehensive feature set that enables people to use it to meet all of their daily payment needs including utility bill pay, top-up minutes, send money using P2Pand pay merchants using P2M features. It’s also the only service that is designed to convert physical cash to e-money, which is being delivered in a way that provides unprecedented access to financial services through Nokia’s retail reach. It’s also the only mobile payment service with a user-friendly application that can be accessed by the masses. Our application uses secure SMS, rather than requiring the user to have a mobile data plan.
Why did you select India as the first emerging market to launch Nokia Money initiative?
We chose India because of its enormous scale and potential as the home to a population of 1.5 billion people. It’s also got the fastest growing cellular market in the world. Right now there are 500 million mobile phones in India, but it’s expected to be more than 900 million by the end of 2013. 41% of India’s population does not even have a bank account. Combined, the market potential here is huge in India.
Nokia and Obopay also bring significant experience and resources to the Indian market. Nokia is among the leading brands in India in market share with over 200,000 retail stores throughout.
We also have a lot of operating experience in India. We have been live in India with YES BANK since 2008. We have a deep understanding of the complex marketplace, the regulations, and ecosystem.
With our combined experience and market potential we felt there was no better place than India for a service offering like this.
What are your expansion plans in India?
We plan to extend the launch over the upcoming months and aggressively roll out the service to all major cities in India within a year.
What does Nokia and YES BANK add to the service offering?
Nokia brings the strength, trust, and the vast distribution of their brand. They’ve got 200,000 retailers across India who could serve as authorized Nokia Money agents. They also bring enormous handset expertise and uniquely developed mobile elements.
YES BANK, who is a long-time partner of Obopay, is the fastest growing bank in India. In fact, it was awarded the “Most Innovative Bank in India.”
We’re a strong company and have strong partners for this service and will continue to grow the ecosystem of partners including mobile operators, banks, distributors and merchants to bring Nokia Money to the market successfully.
How will this impact the lives of Indians?
This service has enormous potential to empower the lives of its users. It has the potential to bring finical services to the hundreds of thousands of Indian Citizens who have previously not had access to them, improving their lives in the process. It’s safer, convenient, and more efficient than cash. It gives consumers and merchants the ability to manage their finances in ways that were not available to them before. It’ll enable business to get paid faster, which will increase productivity.
Obopay today announced it has been chosen by the World Economic Forum as a Technology Pioneer 2010 for its innovation, transformational technology, leadership and substantial long-term impact on businesses and society.
Obopay is one of 26 companies from around the world to be honored with this prestigious award. In addition, Obopay is one of only 11 companies in the Information Technologies, Telecommunications and New Media category and is the only financial services provider receiving the award.
Below are answers from Obopay CEO Carol Realini on what it means to be honored:
What does it mean for Obopay to be honored as a Technology Pioneer 2010 by the World Economic Forum?
We are incredibly honored to be recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Technology Pioneer. It is a badge of honor that we wear proudly. This award underscores our vision and corporate commitment to empowering all people with access to affordable banking through mobile technology.
The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting is the world’s top international event bringing together business and political leaders from around the world to discuss global challenges and how to improve the state of the world. As a result of Obopay being named Technology Pioneer 2010, I will join the Annual Meeting in Davos in January. I am very excited to be invited and I look forward to making valuable contributions and helping to further the global mission of financial inclusion.
Why is Obopay life changing?
Well, it is life changing depending upon where you are in the world. Lot’s of people don’t have access to basic banking services. That’s a fact. The statistics are sobering and the truth is that more than half of the adults in the world don’t have access to savings, credit or electronic payments which makes life incredibly difficult. Some people have to travel great distances to get access to basic banking and must wait in long lines. Others have no safe place to put their money, so the money gets lost or stolen. And, it makes it so unproductive for businesses. But, the ubiquitous mobile phone network is the catalyst that enables Obopay to deliver low cost banking services to people who have mobile phones, which is about everybody, at scale, and at a low cost.
What is the future potential of Obopay?
Obopay’s vision is to empower everyone with universal access to financial services through any mobile phone. There is a vast opportunity ahead of us and the right time is now; the mobile phone has the unique ability to change the way people in all markets interact with money and with their loved ones as well as impact how small businesses transact. The mobile phone is in an exponentially better position than the internet was to have an impact in people’s lives around the world, not just how we communicate but how we interact, how we go about our days and simplify our lives.
The landline brought many communications access. But, there was a natural ceiling. It could only go so far. The same is true of the traditional bank accounts and models. Have we reached that ceiling too? No. However, people still have limited access to banking. Mobile banking and payments is a different approach to banking. We can reach more people. In the next 5, even 10 years, just imagine that a billion more people can get access to bank accounts, credit, and electronic payments, just like everyone now has access to online communications.
Is Mobile Banking and Payments just for emerging markets?
No, the opportunity lives with the unbanked, under-banked as well as those that do existing bank relations in ALL markets – both emerging and developed markets. By launching our services in the US in 2005 and in India in 2008, we were the first to operate in both emerging and developed markets.
There is clearly a need in emerging markets because the traditional banking system can not catch up fast enough. I’m a true believer that it is also important in the United States because we’re the source of a major global network. The same is true in Europe. For example, if I left my family in the Philippines and went to work in France, I could, through the U.S. or Europe, interact and send money from one market to another. We also neglect to realize that there is a lot of unbanked people right here at home. More than 30-50 million families in the U.S. do not have affordable (or have limited access) to financial products.
How does Obopay plan to scale?
We built to scale from the beginning. Yes, Obopay is a young company, but we have already set the stage to tap into the bigger ecosystem by establishing key global relationships with global network providers such as Nokia and Mastercard. It’s all about global scale and global reach. We take a holistic approach pulling all the different stakeholders together including banks, operators, mobile device providers, M-commerce providers, distribution, merchants and small businesses to deliver affordable mobile banking and payments to all people regardless of geography. We are at the forefront of transforming the global banking industry and creating the next generation payment system. These are very exciting times!
You can also view Carol’s video interview by the WEF below:
In developing nations, women are using their mobile devices as a communications and mobile banking hub, writes Latoya Peterson at Jezebel.com. She also quotes the 2008, New York Times Magazine feature, “asking ‘Can the Cellphone Help End Global Poverty?‘ The story followed ‘human behavior researcher’ Jan Chipchase in his Nokia-sponsored quests to understand how people use their cellphones in a variety of environments.” Latoya also quoted stories in the publications below:
We’re often asked if the future of banking will be mobile, and more and more it’s looking that way. While the entire banking industry may not only be mobile, AdAge reports “How Mobile Technology is Changing Banking’s Future” in its latest issue. Taking an excerpt directly from the article:
“Recent technological developments that allow for deposits by iPhone and mobile payments could one day make ATMs as quaint as brick-and-mortar bank branches. But the biggest impact may be on the ability of banks — and even nontraditional players such as Nokia — to find new revenue streams as they branch into emerging markets where cash is still king.”
Carol’s keynote can be seen and heard here. On Twitter, there are many comments about this line: Nokia’s reach of mobile phone users is more than all of the consumers in the world who have a bank account. Other tweets referred to Carol’s statement about the potential for $7 Trillion of payments annually.
The story of the founding of Obopay by Carol, who traveled to Africa while working on a prepaid phone project and was inspired by what she saw to found Obopay, always touches many people. @Caliairose even called Carol her “new hero!”
“The announcement on Wednesday by Nokia, the world’s largest cell-phone maker, that it will launch a mobile-payments service is likely to give a competitive leg-up to Obopay Inc., the Redwood City, Calif.-based mobile-payments processor that developed the software for the new venture, called Nokia Money.”
The article noted Nokia’s news release’s stating that the service will be open and interoperable with other payment services, and that it will run on other manufacturers’ handsets. According to Realini, “In all cases, their [Nokia’s] service commitment is bigger than handsets…..there’s nothing about our relationship that would prevent us from having an offering on other people’s handsets.”
In the article Realini also said that Obopay was making good progress abroad and that with the possible exception of Kenya, no mobile-payments provider had locked up any country yet, and compared the potential to that of the Internet in 1993: “There’s just a huge amount of opportunity.”
On September 3rd in Stuttgart Carol Realini will deliver a keynote titled, “Cash Goes Mobile.” The Nokia World bio page pays tribute to Carol’s global vision: “Carol Realini recognized early on the need and opportunity in both industrialized and developing nations for mobile financial services to serve people everywhere.” A webcast of Carol’s speech will be available here.
We’ll post the speech here next week. For more information on Nokia world, or to register, go to Nokia World.