Mumbai: Financial inclusion facilitating firm Fino on Wednesday said it has acquired Finnish handset-maker Nokia's mobile payment services business in the country for an undisclosed sum that will help it enter prepaid mobile payments segment.

The city-based agency, which is primarily into offering business correspondence services to banks as they carry forward the government and Reserve Bank-mandated financial inclusion agenda, has bought Alpha Payment Services, earlier called as Nokia Mobile Payment Services, in an all cash deal, Fino chief executive Manish Khera said here.

The acquisition will give an opportunity for Fino, which has a network BCs spread across the country, to enter the mobile payments business which is said to be a USD 350 billion opportunity by 2015, he said.

"We were limited only to the banking and financial services space till now wherein we helped oeprate bank accounts, sold insurance and facilitated remittances, this deal gives us an entry into the expenditure side," he said.

Fino was looking at organically expanding into the area and was about to launch on its own in six months, he said.

Nokia, which is struggling to hold on to its market share, operated the business for two years and had decided to exit following a global strategy to divest from non-core businesses, Khera said.

At the peak, the acquired business which is in "dormant" state right now following Nokia's decision to find suitors, the business vertical had a client base of 12 lakh and registered a turnover of over Rs 1 crore a month, he said.

Right now, the total number of customers stand at around 7-8 lakh with few transactions, Khera said, adding Fino will be first concentrating on reviving interest from the existing customers and then grow using its own network of over 27,000 BCs.

The deal gives Fino an access to 4,000 agents which were employed by Nokia to sell the product, Khera said, clarifying that it excludes 100 employees of the company.

The service, which operates even on the rudimentary handsets (a legacy of Nokia's), can be used to pay for paying utility bills like power, satellite television, telephone recharges and money transfers, he said.

It is service operator-agnostic and the deal with Fino also takes it to become handset-maker neutral, Khera said. It is primarily directed at the mid-tier segment in the urban and semi-urban areas having income levels of Rs 90,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh per annum, Khera said.

The transaction was part-funded from the Rs 150 crore capital infusion the company received from private equity major Blackstone last year, its chief financial officer Rishi Gupta said.


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