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Obopay enables mobile transactions via bank-branded mobile money platform

Mobile payments specialist Obopay Inc. has launched Mobile Money for Banks, letting banks deploy their own branded mobile money services.

Designed to make the bank’s accounts the anchor for all current and future mobile money transactions, the service combines complete brand control and a full range of mobile transactions and applications with integration and deployment implemented in 30 days or less. Mobile Money for Banks includes the ability to send and transfer money, as well as payment card acceptance available to anyone.

“This is the culmination of what the company has been doing over the past five years,” said David Schwartz, head of product and corporate marketing at Obopay, Redwood City, CA. “Banks can bring their own mobile money service to market and brand it as their own.

“Through research we’ve done, consumers are looking for mobile money services through their trusted financial services provider, and we help banks speed time to market,” he said. “They can set the pricing, they set the customer relationship, and they can get to market in 30 days or less.”

Founded in 2005, Obopay offers financial institutions a secure and interoperable mobile payments service by transforming any mobile phone into a way to send and receive money.

Obopay’s partners include Nokia, MasterCard, Citibank, AT&T, Verizon, Essar, Yes Bank in India, BlackBerry and Societe Generale.

Mobile Money for Banks
One of the biggest advantages to mobile money for banks is the opportunity to replace a substantial amount of cash and check transactions, turning a cost center into a revenue opportunity for the bank.

Cash and checks remain the predominate payment method used by consumers, and cash alone is projected to still make up more than 27 percent of all consumer payment methods by 2012, according to The Nielsen Report, despite continued growth in debit card usage.

According to Payment News, less than 30 percent of all small businesses accept any form of electronic payment.

It is not surprising that mobile payments are among the top areas in which banks plan to invest in 2010, according to Ovum, and will be mainstream and a top-ten mobile application by 2012, according to Gartner.

Smartphones are at the center of this movement.

In the U.S., there was a 39 percent year-over-year increase in shipments of smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2009.

In that same period, Apple’s iPhone shipments grew by 98 percent.

Smartphones are expected to continue to grow to make up nearly half of all phones in the market by 2011, according to Nielsen.

While banks hope that consumers would prefer to use a mobile payment system from their trusted financial service provider, banks are going to face increasing competitive pressure from non-traditional players outside the industry, as well as their traditional competitors.

The roughly five million people who donated by text message following the disaster in Haiti, for example, were facilitated by carriers rather than banks.

In Canada, carriers have come together to establish a competitive mobile payment service.

Mobile Money for Banks gives financial institutions the opportunity to quickly bring to market branded smartphone, BlackBerry and iPhone applications, as well as mobile Internet, SMS and IVR services, and a range of Web site capabilities.

Obopay claims that its platform leverages established connections and payment processes to existing payment networks and provides mobile coverage through established distribution with mobile carriers.

“We provide a full suite of applications they can put their brand on and get them out into the market, covering the full range of mobile money transaction services they can offer to their customers—the ability to send and transfer money, as well as accept a credit or debit card payment, which serves as check and cash replacement and drives a lot of value for the bank,” Mr. Schwartz said.

Mobile Money for Banks includes the following products:

Get Paid by Obopay
Get Paid by Obopay enables payments to be received for products or services.

Anyone, including small businesses or individuals, can accept debit card or ACH payments from anyone.

Money is received directly into the recipient’s bank account. This includes the capability to accept payments directly from a mobile phone, Web site or email.

Obopay offers a number of tools that people can use to get paid, including payment buttons for Web sites, payment links for emails or email invoices and social networking widgets.

Mobile P2P by Obopay
Mobile P2P by Obopay lets bank customers link and send money to anyone directly from their own bank account using a debit card.

Obopay takes care of validation and regulatory compliance.

Recipients do not have to be signed up for the service to receive the money and can direct the funds into their own bank account using their debit card number or bank account and routing number.

They can also direct the funds to a pre-paid card, if they choose, and get instant access to the funds for online shopping.

Family Money by Obopay
Family Money by Obopay enables bank customers to send money instantly to family members for emergencies, or make regularly scheduled payments.

The family member receiving the money can direct it to their own bank account if they have one, or if the parent prefers, they can provide them with their own personalized prepaid card, which was designed with teens in mind.

Parents can top-up funds instantly from their accounts or on a regularly scheduled basis.

Use of the prepaid debit card allows parents to monitor spending in real time.

Transfer Money by Obopay
Transfer Money by Obopay enables account-to-account transfers, letting customers exchange funds from their bank accounts to accounts outside of their bank.

This is accomplished by linking the accounts they want to send money to by entering that account’s debit card number or its bank account and routing number. 

Obopay offers a variety of integration options, including branded standalone service offerings for both Web and mobile applications, as well as single sign on (SSO).

Payment system integration options enable the bank’s accounts to be anchors for all mobile transactions through integration with existing debit card network connections, or through the ACH network.

Core banking integrations are also available.

“Banks want to control that customer relationship, and now is the time for banks to get into the market,” Mr. Schwartz said. “We give banks a way to provide their own mobile offering at a low cost with the functionality users are demanding.”