Rumour mill: Is Nokia about to launch a mobile money service?

As it struggles to find a handset strategy that will revive its flagging fortunes, Nokia might be preparing to unveil a mobile money service designed to provide secure point of sale transactions using a mobile phone.

Indication that the company could be on the verge of announcing this new service comes with it registering the ‘Nokia Money' trademark in a number of countries with a description of 'computer software to enable mobile telephones to transfer money from one bank account to another bank account', and ‘financial transaction services, namely, providing secure commercial transactions and payment options using a mobile device at a point of sale'.

While registering a trademark can mean little, the fact that Nokia has heavily invested in NFC trials around the world and still has the world's only commercially available NFC phone--assuming that NFC is the technology that would be used by Nokia for the service, is provoking interest.

The company has also recently emphasised that it will look to gain more of its revenues from services--driven by its Ovi Store initiative--into which Nokia Money would nicely fit, and not forgetting that, earlier this year, Nokia make a significant investment, thought to be around US$70 million, in the US-based mobile payments services provider Obopay.

However, current thinking has assumed that mobile money services would be deployed in partnership between mobile operators and banks. The possibility of a handset vendor introducing a branded service has not been considered, but Nokia hasn't been afraid of pushing forward with concepts--even if it treads heavily on operators' sensitive toes, to move an idea forward. Operators and banks have been arguing for years over who is best equipped to run a mobile money service and it perhaps needs the clout (or fear) of Nokia to spark some much needed action.

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