On December 13, 2011, Nokia announced the launch of “Nokia Money” in India. The service was created so that people living in rural parts of the country could conduct financial transactions digitally instead of using hard currency. Today, one day before turning three months old, ZDNet reports that the service will be shut down. Why? Because Stephen Elop, the CEO of Nokia, considers mobile money to not be a core part of the company’s strategy. Let that sink in for a moment. Elop wants Nokia to pump out phones until the end of time instead of branching out and trying other things that might prove to be more lucrative. It wasn’t that long ago that Nokia was making television sets, and before that cables, and before that paper. Evolve or die? Not at Nokia apparently.
So what’s going to happen to people currently using Nokia Money? Refunds for registration fees will start being issued on the 15th of this month. The service will keep working for three to four months, but after that … it’s gone. Nokia has already asked the Reserve Bank of India to revoke their license to be a financial institution. The 100 or so people who were responsible for keeping the service up and running will be reabsorbed into Nokia and will have to find new positions.
Looking at the competition, Google is trying to get Google Wallet off the ground and they’ve got the insanely ambitious goal of replacing the wallet that’s in your back pocket. Meanwhile Microsoft isn’t going to talk about their mobile wallet initiative until their phones support NFC, which is expected to happen when Windows Phone 8 ships in Q4 of this year. Apple hasn’t said anything about mobile money either, but they have plenty of patents that show that they’re at least thinking about becoming a player.
Will Nokia find themselves playing catch up yet again in a decade?