By investing in Obopay, Nokia is betting that mobile money services will take off, particularly in emerging markets where it's hard to access banks or credit.
Nokia made a large investment in the mobile payment company Obopay on Wednesday.
While the terms of the investment were not made public, The Associated Press noted that the company made a regulatory filing this month for sale of up to $70 million in preferred stock. The filing also said Teppo Paavolo, Nokia's head of corporate business development, will get a seat on Obopay's board of directors.
Obopay is a mobile payment service in India and the United States that enables users to send money to others via text messages or through applications. The accounts can be tied to a bank account, or funds can be put into an Obopay account if users don't have access to banks.
The company has raised about $69 million in venture capital, and Nokia's backing could be a big boost as it faces increased competition from the likes of eBay's PayPal Mobile and mobile offerings from MasterCard and Visa.
"This investment is a landmark in the evolution of mobile payments. It underscores the global potential of mobile money by providing convenient access to money anytime, anywhere," Obopay CEO Carol Realini said in a statement. "Given Nokia's position as the leader in mobile communications, we could not have asked for a better investor."
Nokia sees enormous potential in mobile payment, particularly in emerging markets where financial institutions may be sparse. The cell phone manufacturer has released a cell phone that utilizes Near Field Communication technology to let customers use the handset as a contactless form of payment. But recent reports suggest that NFC has failed so far, and the growth in the mobile money market is being driven by services like Obopay.
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