Mobile Marketer has re-launched! Click here to learn more!

MasterCard enables mobile money transfers

MasterCard is letting customers conduct financial transactions via mobile phones.

The payments franchise has teamed with Obopay Inc. to offer an on-demand person-to-person mobile payment service in the United States. This service, offered via MasterCard MoneySend, will let MasterCard-issuing banks allow cardholders to make payments on all credit, debit and prepaid MasterCard-branded products using their mobile phone.

"This solution is based around person-to-person mobile payments," said Simon Pugh, group head of mobile for MasterCard Worldwide, Purchase, NY. "We can get to the market quicker and bring those services as a turn-key solution for financial institutions to integrate quickly into their existing systems, person-to-person credit card, debit , prepaid, direct deposit and checking account payments.

"We have an overall corporate marketing strategy, but the direct consumer marketing will depend on the banks and how they wish to approach their customers," he said. "We're currently in the build-and-development phase. Testing will begin later this year, and this service will officially launch in early 2009."

Consumers can access Obopay directly from BlackBerry smartphones via a customized Obopay application. Wireless-carrier partners include Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless, Cellular South and Helio, as well as mobile merchant

"MasterCard is one of the leading global brands, so it will allow consumers to discover the benefits of mobile payments very quickly," said Ramy Mora, vice president of marketing for Obopay, Redwood City, CA. "This is very substantial deal and we're excited about it.

"We market directly to consumers, for example with banners on Web sites and through our partners, carriers and financial institutions," he said.

"We have direct relationships with tier-one carriers, and they market directly to their customers. The message is that mobile is a direct, easy and secure manner to send and receive funds."

Obopay has relationships with other notable financial institutions.

For example, Citibank also partnered with Obopay to let its checking account customers try out a bank-linked mobile person-to-person payment service this summer (see story).

"We've recently run a marketing campaign with Citibank that included visits to college campuses, street teams, online marketing and events at Citibank branches in select markets," Mr. Mora said. "We will continue to use some of these previous tactics and develop other tactics as well.

Obopay, which claims to be the first U.S.-based payment service created exclusively for the mobile, is compatible with all mobile phones and carriers. It lets consumers and small businesses buy goods and services, pay bills and transfer money through any mobile phone using Obopay's mobile application, text message, mobile Web, widget or through />

A recent study by TowerGroup claimed that in the United States, adoption of consumer mobile banking has quintupled in the past year from 1.1 million active users in 2007 to 5.7 million active users today.

"MasterCard and the issuing banks will market directly to their consumers," Mr. Mora said. "We'll sit down and ask what the best way to reach consumers is."