I remember my first class in Economics – “Evolution of money”. The lecturer took us through the lugubrious story right from barter to paper money, while we were dozing off in the last benches of the classroom. I was reminded of this story today, when I sat reading about ‘mobile money’. Money has come a long way and changing face every day. For those of you who might not know, it is a pretty new concept in India. Mobile money was introduced in India as a pilot project in Pune in May, 2010. After the successful test, now the services are commercially available to all Yes Bank and Nokia customers wherein they can pay for shopping and bills directly from their Nokia mobile phones. Mobile marketing could potentially change because of this service.
Yes Bank received regulatory approvals from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to act as the custodian of funds for ‘mobile money services’. They have entered into a partnership with Obopay and Nokia, owing to their widespread retail network. Obopay has been a pioneering service provider for payments via mobile phones. Airtel Mobile Money Transfer existed but it served only as an extension of mChek. Beam is another service, which had begun with the mobile money services and had begun recruiting rural youth as sales agents. Beam was essentially targeted at rural youth. However, Nokia’s agents would enjoy more trust and reach. Eko is another such service which uses mobile technology to democratize financial services for the un-banked.
This particular service currently is available only on Nokia handsets but would soon be made available on SMS, GPR and IVR and will not be limited to Nokia users which would make it seamless. It has the potential to connect all of us and could become a mass media for consumption. I am really keen to see how this would eventually grow beyond a particular network. Would keep you posted on the interesting developments about the concept.
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