The first-ever European e-money licence allowing for payments and money transfers to any bank, credit card, business or individual through mobile phones has been granted to Norwegian-based virtual bank Contopronto.
Issued by the Norwegian Royal Ministry of Finance, the licence allows for the international expansion of Contopronto's mobile-based payment system, which was first rolled out to Norwegian businesses and personal users last year.
In Norway, merchants such as McDonald's, Peppe's Pizza, and the country's number one loyalty programme Trumf have participated in the one-year pilot. Contopronto users dining at McDonald's or Peppe's, for example, text the billing code for their meal into their mobile to transfer payments to the restaurant's account.
Carrier-independent, the system has also been adopted for paying salaries direct to mobiles and online gambling, and will soon be made available in taxis in 25 cities in Norway. Contopronto currently claims 10,000 active users in its home territory.
The company recently opened its first office abroad in London and is in discussion with Norwegian and UK airlines about the possibility of using the system for the sale and delivery of flight tickets.
The new e-money licence will open up the application for international money transfers says Contopronto CEO Morten Hofstad.
"Contopronto users only send a text message and within a matter of seconds, rather than days, the transaction is completed for a fraction of the cost of a traditional funds transfer," he says. "Funds can be sent in any currency. For example a person in Denmark can send either kroners, pounds, euros or other currencies to someone in London."
Funds to a maximum value of EUR1250 can be sent to anyone, even if they are not Contopronto members, says Hofstad. Once a payment is accepted an account will be automatically opened.