mwallet.jpg

Obopay is a Palo Alto start-up that boasts it will be the first service to allow customers to pay for just about anything with their mobile phones.

The company is being coy with the details. We talked with Peter Kellner, a partner at Richmond Management, who has just pumped $10 million into the company, together with venture firms Redpoint Ventures and ONSET Ventures.

If this lives up to the hype, it should be pretty cool stuff.

He said product details are secret (note that the company’s Web site is password protected), and that we will find out more in the second quarter when Obopay hits the market. He wouldn’t say whether the payment will be linked with a credit card account, a bank account, or whatever.

He just pointed us to a statement the company had prepared:

Obopay is working with carriers, merchants and financial institutions to bring to market the first comprehensive mwallet service offered directly to U.S. consumers,” said Allen Beasley, Partner at Redpoint Ventures. “Using Obopay, consumers will have access to the fastest way to get, send and spend funds anywhere they choose right from their mobile phones.

In addition to enabling mobile payments, Obopay will allow users to instantly get cash from any ATM or spend it at millions of stores, the statement continued. See full press release here (downloads document).

It was founded last year, and its executive team members have worked at places like Visa, Western Union and Chordiant Software.

Obopay will be more comprehensive that other competitors out there, Kellner said. Neither customers nor retailers will need any special hardware to accommodate the payment, such as swipe machines, which he said Samsung requires in its mobile phone payments service partnership with DoCoMo. Kellner said merely that Obopay will have an “extremely effective peer to peer money transfer.”

We’re aware of several other competitors: Textpayme, of Redmond, WA, which uses text messaging to send payments to other phones; Way Systems, of Woburn, Mass., founded about four years ago, and backed by Bessemer Venture Partners and VantagePoint Venture Partners; Mobilelime, of Watertown Mass., which raised $4 million last year.

Indeed, the mobile revolution is bringing a renewed focus on mobile payments after “people threw a lot of money at the mobile wallet in the 1990s,” and many companies closed down, Kellner notes. What happened, for example, to companies like Napa’s Encorus Technologies, which was working on mobile payments software? Well, a check on Google reveals it is still around, though apparently as part of a German company. Then there’s Israeli start-up CellPay, backed by CAP Ventures and Gemini Israel Venture, which apparently has shut down.