Monday, October 12, 2009

Nokia Set for Mobile Money Services in East Africa

Mobile phone company Nokia is expected to roll out its money transfer services in the East African region next year according to the firm's regional spokesperson. The global mobile phone giant recently unveiled Nokia Money which is similar to MTN Uganda's Mobile Money and Zain's Zap. The service is meant to extend affordable, accessible and user friendly money transfer services to billions of un-banked people around the world.

Ms Dorothy Ooko, Nokia communications manager, Eastern and Southern Africa, told Business Power in an interview last week, that the Nokia Money service will be rolled out gradually to selected markets including the East African region in 2010.

The entry of Nokia's service in East Africa could further tilt the scales in the money transfer industry that has already become very competitive. Traditional money transfer agents like Western Union and Moneygam will most likely be the biggest losers to Nokia's initiative as it will seek to mop up a share of their international market.

Ooko said the service will be extended to Uganda and Kenya, where the pioneering mobile money transfer services have been a huge success. "Here, we will come to compliment and not compete with the existing service providers," said Ms Ooko who was in Kampala to examine the company's corporate social responsibility projects. She added that unlike the current service providers Nokia Money will enable transactions to be done, by subscribers of any network in the world, and will not be limited by national borders like it is with local or regional players.

The Finland-based firm will roll out its service in a partnership with Obopay, a service provider for payment via mobile phones in which Nokia invested in earlier this year. Obopay operates s a mobile payment platform that facilitate users of international credit and debit cards like Visa and Master Card to utilize the system to pay money.

In markets like East and West Africa where mobile money services have already been launched, Nokia says it will work with telecoms to enable them cross international borders through its "Obopay payment service. Ms Ooko said; "Offering Nokia Money to and with operators will enable mobile operators to offer customers better services while not limiting and restricting the growth of the service in their network," She added that the service will also open up new income lines for the telecoms and diversity their retention options.

Nokia money is also is expected to quicken the rapid exchange of money around the world like it's happening in different countries and regions. The mobile phone giant with up to 1 billion customers around the world is seeking to tap into a market of at least 4 billion mobile phone users around the world with its money transfer service.

(Source: The Monitor)