Mobile-phone giant Nokia invested an undisclosed amount in Obopay, the developer of a system that lets people send money to each other from their mobile phones.
Nokia's head of corporate business development, Teppo Paavola, will take a seat on Obopay's board. The Redwood City, California, company plans to use the investment to extend its product suite and expand internationally.
Obopay users can send money to other people using text messaging or an Obopay client on their phones. A group of friends may use the service, for example, to settle the bill at a restaurant. One person might pay the whole tab on a credit card and the others could pay their share of the bill to that person via Obopay. Users who spend money with Obopay must first set up an Obopay account and add money to it.
Businesses can also let people pay directly for goods or services via Obopay.
The company has a number of high-profile investors and partners. Citibank has an equity stake in Obopay and is also running a pilot of the service for Citi customers. Companies including Qualcomm, Essar and Alliance Bernstein invested US$20 million in Obopay last year.
Nokia has made other investments in mobile payment technologies. It is the majority partner in a joint venture company, Venyon, that is developing a service to support near-field communications. NFC is short-range technology that can be built into mobile phones and lets users wave their phones in front of a reader at a cash register to make a payment.