Nokia Targets Mobile Financial Services

Nokia is hoping to cash in on the mobile financial services market with the launch today of Nokia Money.

The service will give users access to "basic financial services" and is aimed at the billions of people around the world who currently have no bank account.

Mobile financial services is expected to mushroom over the coming years with the number of global mobile banking transactions predicted to ramp up from 2.7 billion in 2007 to 37 billion by 2011, according to recent research—driven largely by take-up in the developing world.

While person-to-person payments aren't exactly new in emerging markets, the increasing spread of low-cost handsets in developing countries coupled with the low penetration of banking services—Nokia estimates there are only 1.6 billion bank accounts in the world—could make mobile banking a potentially lucrative area for operators as well as helping to establish brand loyalty.

According to Nokia, the new service will allow users to make person-to-person payments using their mobile as well as pay bills and buy goods and services.

Nokia Money is based on Obopay's payments platform—a company Nokia invested in back in March—and is expected to go live early next year.

Nokia's not the only one eyeing mobile financial services for the unbanked—the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the former Microsoft CEO's charitable organisation, recently donated $12.5m to a scheme to help the world's poor to get bank accounts on mobile phones.

The move into mobile financial services marks the second new business direction for Nokia this week—the company revealed it was breaking into the laptop market on Monday with the Booklet 3G.

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