Obopay, the mobile payments company which Nokia had invested in last year, has launched bill payments services for government owned telecom operator BSNL, in the West Zone, including in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh. BSNL doesn’t operate in Mumbai, which its sister concern MTNL has the mandate for. The announcement comes just a few months after Deepak Chandnani was appointed President at Obopay.
This is a bill payments service, and appears to be similar to MChek’s deal with Bharti Airtel. The challenge for these service providers is in going beyond telco bill payments to enabling purchase of goods and services.
For the time being payment is available only to customers with credit cards – customers have to register their credit card one time, and generate an m-Pin by SMS’ing 52828, which can be used for bill payment services. BSNL intends to extend this service to its mobile and landline subscribers pan-India, and also allow payments via bank accounts and ‘stored value accounts’ (probably pre-paid cash-cards). Earlier this year, Nokia had partnered with Yes Bank to launch a Nokia Money pilot in Pune.
The service is available on SMS, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), WAP and a mobile application (J2ME). BSNL is the fifth largest mobile operator in India, with 73.78 million connections at the end of July 2010, though it had been alleged by a former board member, that this is an inflated number.
Do also read Nokia’s comments on mobile payments in India. Download the presentation made to India’s Department of Information Technology by Nokia (pdf).
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