NEW YORK – Verizon Wireless, the No. 2 U.S. mobile service, said Wednesday it will let customers use their cell phones to send each other money using a service from privately held Obopay Inc.
The service will be available in the coming weeks, said Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc.
U.S. wireless providers have been putting everything from Web surfing to music players into their cell phones in a bid to make consumers use their phones for more than just talking.
The Obopay service, which will eventually let customers conduct transactions by waving their phone at a retail checkout or an automated bank cash machine, comes with an Obopay prepaid Mastercard, which lets users spend the money on their mobile account.
New phones and retail and cash machines with short-range wireless connections would need to be more widely available before the service lets users just use their phone.
Obopay said its service could eventually be incorporated with online retailers and mobile providers billing systems to give consumers more payment options.
Verizon Wireless has yet to reveal pricing for the service.
Obopay already has agreements with smaller service providers such as Helio, a venture of SK Telecom (SKM) and EarthLink Inc (ELNK), and privately held Amp'd Mobile, which recently filed for bankruptcy protection.
AT&T Inc. (T), Verizon Wireless' bigger rival in terms of subscriber numbers, said earlier this year it was offering its customers mobile banking services, letting customers manage their bank accounts and pay bills electronically using phones.