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When will Nokia buy a bank?

16/3/08

Willie Sutton never said he robbed banks because "that's where the money was", but it's a good story. One that came to me when I was thinking about Nokia's plans for world domination. The Nokia plan is clearly to dominate end to end services.

And I like a bit of gentle domination.

Nokia has bought SNAP for gaming and Navteq for navigation.

Turning phones into money might be an old trick for the industry but turning phones into credit cards has been just about to happen for years and never has.

M-commerce has to be an end to end service. Messaging, music and money all rely upon the ecosystem. The networks don't speak the same language the banks. Banks think transaction charges should be less than 5%, the networks 20%.

The solution has been to keep the electronic wallet separate from the phone bill.

But who pays for the software, NFC or finger print readers? The banks can't because they don't buy phones. Networks won't pay for features that do nothing for ARPU and play against their owning the customer.

Nokia has had a wallet in its phones for seven years, since the 6310.
Its had NFC since 2004 yet these features have failed to make it to the mainstream.

2001 was when the banks discovered WAP banking, they thought by putting in mobile internet systems people would take out a new mortgage when on the train, or apply for life insurance from the supermarket. Not surprisingly people actually like to think about major financial decisions. WAP banking flopped and the banks licked the wounds of the experiment.

Buying a bank fits Nokia's agenda. They've tried pushing the phones into the market, they need to find a way to pull them from the other end.
When you open an account with Bank of Nokia you won't get a cheque book and credit card, you'll get a phone with NFC.

When I'm buying a new pair of Choos , I'm not fussed if I pay by cash, cheque or card. I mind which phone I carry but can see that most girls would not. Just so long as my bank account hasn't been emptied by Willie Sutton: he knew the importance of being well equipped and carried a machine gun because, as he did say, "You can't rob a bank on charm and personality".

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