Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nokia launches mobile phone banking services for the poor

Mobile phone banking has been another way to bring the poor the same economic access as those with more money. Many poor in the under-developed world may have phone, but not a bank account. So new mobile banking technologies have expanded to reach those people.

From this Reuters article, reporter Brett Young tells us about Nokia's latest foray into mobile banking.

The world's top mobile phone maker Nokia said on Wednesday it would launch a mobile financial service next year targeting consumers, mainly in emerging markets, with a phone but no banking account.

Nokia said its Nokia Money service was based on the mobile payment platform of Obopay, a privately-owned firm that Nokia invested in earlier this year, and it is now building up a network of agents.

Obopay, which uses text messaging and mobile internet access, charges users a fee to send money or to top up their accounts.

"Mobile-enabled financial services has tremendous growth opportunities," Nokia Chief Development Officer Mary McDowell said, noting there are 4 billion mobile phone users globally but only 1.6 billion bank accounts and 1 billion credit cards.

"There is pretty significant gap between people, especially in emerging markets, who have a mobile device yet don't have a bank account," she said.

Mobile money is one of the hottest topics in the wireless world, but so far take-up of services has been limited mostly to a few emerging markets, as in developed countries, the popularity of online banking has been a brake on mobile money.

The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), a U.S.-based microfinance policy and research center, has said the market for mobile financial services to poor people in emerging markets will surge from nothing to $5 billion in 2012.

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