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Friday, February 02, 2007

Cashless Society: Mobile Payment Meets Social Networking

It has been a minute since I have posted a Cashless Society update...

Found this quiet and clever bit about OboPay, a US mobile payments company which has acquired BillMonk, a Website that helps people to keep track of the money they owe each other.

Seattle, Washington-based BillMonk's Website is aimed at social groups such as roommates who share bills, friends going on a trip together or dining out, or co-workers raising funds for a group present.

Obopay's acquisition of BillMonk means that BillMonk users can not only keep track of the money they owe each other, but also settle their bills using Obopay's text messaging service. They can use BillMonk to generate a running statement of exactly who owes what to whom. BillMonk users input their spending via text messages or directly onto the Website.

Oh, did I mention that BillMonk works seamlessly with/thru Facebook?

Obopay's payment service enables subscribers to send money to each other via mobile phone text messages. The recipient has to register at the Obopay Website to gain access to the money they have been sent.

An Obopay spokesperson says that BillMonk plans to support virtual currencies that are used in online worlds such as Second Life and World of Warcraft.

AKI RANT: I am beginning to feel vindicated about my crusade around here for getting in on the virtual cash economies (flashback and flashback).

Virtual gold is simply an untapped opportunity (stay tuned for updated $numbers i've dug up on this, soon). This is a no-brainer, services cost (from the fresh rims on my Grand Theft Auto to some "companionship" in the champagne rooms on 2L, to the designer sword for my ogre on World of Warcraft). Or if you don't like that, then you'll need increased branded sponsorship (Maybe free rims to all visitors at the Napa Parts Store on 2L? Free trial weoponry by Remington at the Cabela's on 2L? Free condoms from Durex on 2L?). Trust and security and exchange systems for money will be key in virtuality! OboPay+BillMonk are smellin' that pot o' e-gold over the rainbow.

But let's check into more about this OboPay...

Obopay has signed up the first U.S wireless operator to support its mobile payment service. Service is now live on all Amp'd Mobile handsets. Amp'd Mobile phones all contain embedded Obopay application software.

Mobile phone users who have registered with Obopay's Website can send money via SMS text message to another mobile phone user. The recipient has to register at the Obopay Website to gain access to the money they have been sent. As an alternative to text messaging, a mobile phone user can use their handset's Web browser to send money to a third-party.

Obopay offers a stored-value account which comes with an Obopay-branded prepaid MasterCard debit card. Users can spend money in their Obopay account by using the card at ATMs or merchants which accept MasterCard. The prepaid card, which is issued by First Premier Bank, is linked in real-time to the Obopay stored-value account.

Los Angeles, California-based Amp'd operates a broadband wireless network that offers 3G voice and mobile entertainment services in the U.S. Obopay users can check their account balance and transaction history on their Amp'd mobile phone.

Initially, the main uses of Obopay are likely to be sharing money with friends, but the company envisages the service being used to pay merchants. Ultimately, Obopay wants to take advantage of Near-Field Communications (NFC) technology, which enables mobile phones to make contactless payments, a spokesperson says. Obopay last week signed a deal with VivoTech, the Santa Clara, California-based contactless card reader vendor, to allow Obopay users to access the ViVOwallet software to pay for purchases by waving their NFC phone at a VivoTech POS reader.

AKI RANT #2: The first rounds are fired for disintermediating banks and, in someways the traditional payment systems like Visa+Mastercard+Amex+Discover from the mobile payment sphere. At what point might the phone company provide me with all I really need to buy, sell and trade?


via ePay News


James said...

I can't count how many times in past bar runs/dinners/social outings I wish I had the Obopay/BillMonk service. Sounds like a great idea...

Rich said...

Sounds like a good combination of ideas. There might be a future in this...

Rachel said...

my friends owe me so much from dinners, movies, shopping...pretty much everything. now i can get it back :-)

William said...

Obopay + Second Life = makes sense. Hurry up and make them work together!

Jacob said...

im a big Second-Lifer...if Obopay's going to allow us to transfer L$, I'm all for it.