Union Bank of India is planning to launch “Union Bank Money”, a mobile payments service, in partnership with Nokia and (Nokia funded) Obopay. The service allows customers to store money, transfer money and make payments: it is, by the looks of it, a wallet service. Remember that Union Bank of India is also among the banks to have partnered for the P2P mobile money transfer service, which is bank account linked; the service will also allow P2P transfers, and also allow customers to withdraw money from Union Bank of India ATMs. Nokia plans to preinstall the application in Nokia mobile devices. The rollout is expected to be complete in 12-18 months.

Two interesting things in the release:
– Nokia Stores as Banking Correspondents: Using the Union Bank of India card, customers will be able to withdraw money to do, according to the release “BC cashout (Registered Nokia stores)”. This means that Nokia is converting its Registered Nokia stores into Banking Correspondents. This is unexpected, but will give the service an outreach beyond bank outlets. This is the kind of outreach on can expect from mobile operators’ retail networks as banking correspondents (though that proposal is still under consideration).

– The press release also states that “The Union Bank Money service will provide those who do not have a bank account, access to financial services through their mobile phones, thus empowering people and their businesses.” Have mobile wallets that aren’t linked to bank accounts been permitted yet in India? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think only prepaid payment products have been allowed, where no cash-out is possible.

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