Nokia is planning to launch a mobile financial service targeting consumers, mainly in emerging markets, with a phone but no banking account. The Nokia Money service is based on the mobile payment platform of Obopay, a privately-owned firm that Nokia invested in earlier this year. The mobile phone maker is now building up a network of agents ahead of its planned launch next year. 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.
The announcement is the latest push by Nokia to diversify its business as global handset sales have gone from slowing down over the past few years to contracting due to the recession. The firm also said this week that it would start to make laptops. he 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.