Nokia ships phones with banking application in India

The company is targeting mobile banking rollouts in the country

Nokia X1-01 dual-SIM phone

Nokia X1-01 dual-SIM phone

Nokia has started shipping mobile phones in India that are preloaded with its banking application, in a bid to popularize mobile banking in the country.

India is the first market where Nokia is preloading the Mobile Money client on its phones, a company spokeswoman said on Monday.

Nokia has already teamed up with Union Bank of India, and Yes Bank, and rolled out a mobile banking service based on the Obopay mobile payment platform, on a revenue-sharing basis.

The company is preloading the banking application on all phones, including entry-level devices that lack an Internet connection. The user interface for the application is SMS (short message service), but the device's data transport can be SMS, GPRS (general packet radio service) or Wi-Fi, Nokia said.

The first phone to ship with the application is the X1-01, a dual-SIM (subscriber identity module) phone that Nokia manufactures at its facility in Chennai in south India. Dual-SIM phones are popular with Indians who have more than one mobile connection.

Banks and mobile service providers plan to offer mobile banking services to take advantage of the large number of mobile connections in the country, including in rural areas. India had 827 million mobile connections at the end of April, of which 34 percent were in rural areas.

To make it easier for banks to reach rural people, India's central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, has allowed banks to appoint "banking correspondents" in remote locations where there are no bank branches. These correspondents, which can include small retail outlets, are allowed to open new accounts, dispense and accept cash from customers and offer other services on behalf of the bank.

Nokia is offering some of its retail outlets as banking correspondents to banks.

Once users have created an account at a correspondent outlet, they can use Nokia's pre-installed banking application to transfer funds, pay bills or receive money, the company said. Users with earlier versions of Nokia's phones can get the application installed by the banking correspondent.

The mobile number will be the unique identifier for the purpose of the bank, the spokeswoman said. Users have to enter their passwords to log in to their accounts, and a PIN (personal identification number) to make a transaction through their phones.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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