Mobile

Mobile banking firm Obopay promotes its president to CEO

Mobile banking company Obopay is announcing today it has promoted Deepak Chandnani from president to chief executive. He replaces Carol Realini, who will become executive chairman.

The move reflects the growing importance of international markets to Obopay, which lets users send money to relatives around the world from your mobile phone. Obopay creates a mobile banking platform that banks use to create services for customers. Chandnani will run the company from Mumbai, India. The company also has corporate offices in Redwood City, Calif., and operates in the U.S., India, Senegal, and Kenya.

Obopay’s service targets the global work force of immigrants who send money across borders or to places where it isn’t safe to carry cash. The company also targets places that don’t have traditional banks with paper money. The service’s rapid growth reflects the mobility of the world’s workers.

In an interview, Chandnani said that he will focus on the company’s growth and geographic expansion, while Realini will focus on corporate strategy and vision. She will be the evangelist for mobile money and its adoption throughout the world. Having the dual headquarters reflects the company’s global business operations.

Realini said that Obopay’s revenue has doubled over the last year and is expected to do the same in 2011. The company’s employee count has grown from 200 to 350. Chandnani was appointed president in May, 2010. He led the company’s expansion into Africa and is now pushing the service into parts of Europe.

Partners include Nokia, which is an investor, as well as Union Bank of India, Yes Bank, Societe General, Essar, MasterCard, FIS Global and the STAR Network. Chandnani (pictured) said the company has completed a number of pilot tests and has a number of deployments lined up for 2011.

The company was founded in 2005 and has raised $140 million to date. Chandnani was previously CEO of Wire and Wireless in India and was managing director in India for NCR.

With the STAR Network, Obopay kicked off a big service. It uses the expedited transfer service of STAR, which enables real-time transfers between STAR accounts, as part of Obopay’s Mobile Money for Banks offering. STAR, a division of First Data, created the transfer service for the instantaneous transfer of money via automated teller machines. If you look on the back of your ATM card, you’ll likely see the STAR logo, which means that the card can be used in most ATMs across the country. STAR reaches 80 million users in the U.S.

In May, Obopay debuted Mobile Money for Banks, with a variety of banks ranging from Citibank to Societe Generale participating. In the past, mobile transactions were subject to waiting periods that were similar to the time it takes to clear a paper check. Now, the customers of those banks will be able to transfer money to a relative in real time, similar to how relatives often transfer money via Western Union. But this process takes place entirely on a mobile phone.


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