When I am at work, I get this feeling that mobile payment always uses NFC. Nokia supports NFC, but they are not going to wait a few more years for this technology to be widely available. So, here comes Nokia Money, a mobile payment service that works with the Obopay platform (a company in which Nokia recently invested a significant amount of money).
To make things short, the service works by opening an account, putting money on it, and then sending SMS’s to Obopay containing the phone number of whoever you want to send money to and an amount. Easy, huh? Of course, there is a catch: you can send money to people who don’t have an Obopay account, but they will need to open one to get the money.
Obopay offers other interesting services in the U.S., like the ability to obtain a prepaid MasterCard that makes it easy to spend the money on your account, as well as family accounts, which can be associated to several cards (one for each kid), which can be loaded as needed by the parents.
Doesn’t it sound too good?
Something I don’t like about this solution (and many others) is that it forces me to have a specific account, which contains some money. I don’t like the fact that we all need an Obopay account, a Paypal account, and many more in which our money just sits.
On the other hand, I like the simplicity of the solution, which could become a great way to exchange money with friends. And of course, the advantage of having a dedicated account containing a limited amount of money is evident in terms of security, as it limits the amount of a possible theft.
Nokia seems to primarily target countries with a limited banking infrastructure, focusing on people who have a mobile phone but no bank account. This also sounds very good, as this is a huge market, in which Nokia remains a dominant actor (Apple may cause them trouble in the smartphone business, but Nokia still reigns on low-cost phones). And anyway, some guy in the PR states that the service will be available “on virtually any mobile phone”, including non-Nokia phones. In parallel, Nokia is building a network of Nokia Money agents that will be used to deposit/withdraw cash from a Nokia Money account.
I would have loved to talk about the solution’s security, but I don’t have enough information to state anything interesting. I would just like to know how payment orders are confirmed, because sending a SMS from a phone is rather simple for any application.
Finally, I am wondering how this will be integrated with applications. If all it takes is sending a SMS, then triggering a payment may be extremely simple. Wouldn’t you love adding a little “Pay with Nokia Money” icon on your next iPhone application?
I guess that we will all need to watch for this at next week’s Nokia World event.