Nokia said today that it’s going to be entering the mobile payments market next year with a product called Nokia Money, powered by mobile payments startup Obopay. With it, users will be able to send money to other people using their mobile phone numbers, as well as pay merchants and bills.
The mobile device manufacturer isn’t revealing too many details yet about how the service will take on competitors like PayPal Mobile. It sounds like it won’t just be for the owners of Nokia phones, though, since the company says it will work on “virtually any mobile phone.” (Though whether someone who owns a non-Nokia phone would want to do that is another question.) Nokia plans to demonstrate the service at the Nokia World conference on Sept. 2 and 3, and then to start rolling it out in early 2010.
The news isn’t a big surprise — after Nokia’s investment in Obopay earlier this year, it was clear the company planned to get involved in mobile payments; it was just a question of what form that involvement would take. Simple mobile payments could have the biggest impact in emerging economies in Africa and Asia, where phones are many people’s primary or only connection to the web. In the announcement, Nokia notes that that there are far more mobile phones in the world than bank accounts (4 billon compared to 1.6 billion).