Finland’s Nokia has always dreamed of the day when mobile users will be able to treat their mobile phones like credit cards, authorizing transactions in stores (or at vending machines() using their mobile phones, then having the charges who up on their carrier bill or be taken out of a pre-paid account. However, so far these so-called near-field transactions have failed to take off in the mobile industry, with consumers instead conducting mobile commerce with their smartphones in much the same way they would use a Web browser on a computer.
However, Nokia still has its eye on the near-field mobile commerce idea, and has just made a substantial investment in mobile commerce startup Obopay. Although the terms of the deal weren’t disclosed by either company, a regulatory filing by Obopay earlier this month authorized the sale of up to $70 million in preferred stock in the company. Under the deal, Nokia’s head of business development Teppo Paavolo will take a seat on Obopay’s board of directors.
Obopay is currently up and running in the U.S. and India, and enables users to conduct ecommerce transactions via text messages and other cell phone applications, with the transactions being posted to bank accounts or credit cards. Obopay also supports prepaid accounts for users who don’t have credit cards.