Obopay gears up for Indian launch

Obopay gears up for Indian launch

California-based mobile payments start-up Obopay has struck deals with six banks and three telcos in India ahead of the launch of its mobile debit service in the country in February, according to local press reports.

Aditya Menon, executive director, Obopay India, told reporters that customers will be able to transfer money, pay utility bills and buy transportation tickets through the mobile debit service.

However, unlike the firm's US-based system, Obopay India will operate solely through banks as Indian regulations prevent the firm acting as a financial services company and issuing debit cards.

Menon told reporters the service "is like extending an ATM machine onto your phone".

Customers will be required to register for the service with their bank before being given a PIN for mobile payments. Users can then either download software to their phone or use the service via SMS or interactive voice response. The recipient of any funds transferred over the system will also need to be registered with Obopay.

There are thought to be around 220 million mobile phone users in India, but many don't have bank accounts. Menon told the reports that to address this problem the firm is exploring the possibility of turning unbanked customers into "no frills" account holders.

Obopay first revealed plans to target the Indian market last January and has established a development centre in Bangalore. The firm will face competition from local mobile payments vendors such as mCheck and JiGrahak, which operates the NGpay platform.

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