Update: Well “early stages of discussions” was what we were told. FINO has now confirmed what we had reported last week – that they’re acquiring Nokia Money in India. The service being launched is called “Takatak Money”, and the new entity being formed to offer the service is called Alpha Payment Services India Private Limited. FINO claims 31000 transaction points, 50,000 villages and 50 million customers. Takatak Money will offer money transfers, utility bill payments, mobile & DTH recharges, and the company claims that it will be bank and telecom operator agnostic, targeting both urban and rural customers.
It’s not clear whether Obopay will power the platform for Takatak Money; it was powering Nokia Money,though. It’s also not clear how many active customers Nokia Money has. Read our report below for more on Nokia Money and Obopay.
June 21st 2012: Blackstone backed mobile financial services firm FINO is in talks to take over Nokia Money accounts, MediaNama had heard from sources. Representatives for Nokia and FINO told MediaNama that discussions between the two companies are taking place, but declined to comment further. The FINO representative said that nothing is finalized and it’s too early to comment.
Nokia had announced in March this year that it was exploring options for a structured exit from the “Mobile Financial Services business”, including Nokia Money. Nokia Money was operated in partnership with Union Bank of India and Yes Bank and was powered by Obopay. According to a report from Obopay investor Elephant Capital, dated 28th May 2012, Nokia Money had 1.3 million users in India. Businessline had reported that Nokia Money had asked its customers to use up the money in their account within a 3-4 month period starting March 15th 2012. Makes you wonder what exactly is being acquired then.
According to its website, FINO claims a customer base of 48.55 million, and 30333 transaction points in 424 districts across 26 states. This is up from 43.66 million customers, 22,037 transaction points in 399 districts across 25 states in January 2012. In June last year, it had claimed a network of 12,000 agents, 24 million customers, and 3 million transactions in a month, across 23 Indian states and 293 districts.
Earlier this year, FINO had raised an undisclosed amount of funding from the World Bank Group’s development finance institution IFC. FINO has also raised money from Intel Capital (amount undisclosed) and private equity fund Blackstone (invested Rs 150 crore). FINO facilitates no-frill bank accounts, universal health insurance and delivers government pension, and besides being a technology enabler, it also manages cash on the field.