We all knew that the ability to make money exchange through mobile devices will be here very soon (in many places you can already pay for parking and other services through your mobile) - but now it's really here.
Nokia and Motorola (a week after) both announced their new mobile financial services recently.
The rational behind it is very simple, as described in here:
"We believe mobile financial services offer a market opportunity with long term growth potential. In many countries, mobile phone ownership significantly exceeds bank account usage, suggesting that many mobile phone users have very limited or no access to basic financial services. With more than 4 billion mobile phone users and only 1.6 billion bank accounts, global demand for access to financial services presents a strong opportunity to combine mobile devices with simple but powerful financial services such as Nokia Money", said Mary McDowell, EVP and Chief Development Officer, Nokia.
Mobile payments will be the next step for delivering financial services to hundreds of millions of people, both urban and rural, who are undeserved by existing payment means, especially in emerging economies.
OK, so now that it all makes sense, let's talk a little bit about technologies:
Nokia just announced Nokia Money, a new mobile financial service enables financial management and payments from a mobile phone.
Nokia Money can be used from any mobile phone running... Symbian, so it seems like Nokia will have to do something about it really soon if they intend to make it "standard".
The Nokia Money service will be operated in cooperation with Obopay, a leader in developing global mobile payment solutions, which Nokia invested in earlier this year. The service is based on Obopay's mobile payment platform, with unique and newly developed mobile elements. Nokia intends the service to be open and interoperable with other payment services as well.
Motorola took a different path for the money services - this time it's both software and hardware. The company created the I-SIM NFC (near field communication) Lite card, a small card nearly the size of a common mobile phone SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card but much thinner. The card contains chips that can store and transmit information including credit card, debit card, subway card, frequent flyer and other membership card information to transform a mobile phone into a payment device and more. Hold a handset armed with I-SIM NFC Lite up to a card reader to make a payment wirelessly the same way credit cards with similar technology work. Such technology can save time in check out lines because people can make quick payments without swiping a credit card and signing a bill, and can potentially take the place of a wallet.
One key to the new Motorola card is its size. It's made as a sticker to be attached to a mobile phone SIM card and fit inside the SIM card slot of a mobile phone. There's no need for operators to make customers pick up new a new SIM card. In fact, the SIM card attachment is designed to work with standard card readers as well, making them potentially useful in stores with card readers and cities that use card readers on buses, subways, trains or other systems.
Here, as well, I believe that the key to the success (or failure) will be the ability to support many devices and mobile OS.
The company is already talking to operators in China and Taiwan about using the cards and Motorola hopes Taiwan can be a testing ground for the technology.
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