Nokia Veteran on the Future of Mobile Financial Services

Mobey Forum, a not-for-profit organization working to make the mobile financial services ecosystem prosperous and profitable, recently appointed Sirpa Nordlund as its new Executive Director. She follows Liisa Kannianen, who stepped down from the role on Nov. 1. Nordlund, a veteran of Nokia and NFC expert, spoke with about her plans to lead Mobey Forum in defining “what’s next” in mobile financial services.  Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, how you got into payments?

SIRPA NORDLUND: I am delighted to be selected as the Executive Director (ED) of Mobey Forum and feel that at the age of 42 I have gathered a wide-ranging selection of useful professional experience, which will enable me to fulfil the expectations as new leader. I started my career at finance&control, in an exciting role providing first-hand operational numbers to the executive board of Nokia. It was an excellent entry-level position, and it was extremely useful to see how the big corporation is navigated in the light of numbers, and how the future can be predicted and created through small signs in changing figures. Thanks to the skills I acquired in management finance, I was invited to join the innovation Business Unit, and I soon got involved with a promising, but surprisingly old technology, which was later named with familiar three letters, NFC. It was at first only deployed in business-to-business solutions, and it took a while until it was seen as an option for consumers mobile devices. (Related Briefing Room: NFC and Contactless)

You ask how I got into payments. By coincidence, actually, as often in life. At Nokia, I was working closely with Mr. Lauri Pesonen, who became the CEO of the new joint venture, now known as Venyon. Lauri asked me to join the new initiative, and after seeing what a bright group of people he had already collected to work for Venyon, it was not a difficult decision to leave a big company and see the start of a new, small one. During my three years at Venyon, I learned a lot about smart cards and the financial industry, from both a  technology and a business perspective. I was also fortunate enough to work together with some of the leading banks in mobile payments, such as ING and DnBNor, where I met some great people with rare skills of forming visions to concrete steps and thus creating the future.

PYMNTS: What does it mean to be the new Executive Director of Mobey Forum, and what is the mission of Mobey Forum?

NORDLUND: Mobey Forum is the industry association advancing mobile financial services, covering Mobile Banking, Mobile Payments and Mobile Remittances. Within Mobey Forum there is a high level of ambition and knowledge: The forum gathers together a selected group of professionals from banks, mobile network operators, smart card industry and handset manufactures. (Related Briefing Room: Mobile Platform Wars)

The mission of Mobey Forum is to help financial industries to create a prosperous mobile financial services ecosystem, where our members can conduct profitable business based on open standards, a high degree of interoperability and freedom for the end-user. Being the new ED at Mobey Forum gives me the opportunity to make our mission come true by creating an interactive, open atmosphere where our members can share their experiences and strengthen their commitment to work together.

PYMNTS: is all about “what’s next” in payments. How will you, in your role, help Mobey Forum define “what’s next”?

NORDLUND: It is actually a three-level process. First of all, our member meetings are closed-door events with top-level speakers, both guests and members, who share their insights for mobile payments and banking. Our meetings are often very interactive, and our speakers are encouraged to share the lessons learned and more importantly, their visions of the future. Secondly, through ongoing work at Mobey Forum workgroups, which is the most effective way for our members to influence the industry. Workgroups are in continuous operations and work on current, well-defined topics. In addition to this, our Board of Directors consists of Senior Executives with in-depth knowledge of mobile payments. Together, we combine the silent signs within the industry, define the direction of future trends and analyse carefully the business possibilities they possess. From these trends and signs we define the themes for our member meetings, suggest topics for workgroups and outline the requirements and topics for our guest speakers.

PYMNTS: At what kinds of places do you believe that NFC mobile acceptance will be seen first – the transportation industry aside – and when will that happen?

NORDLUND: It is good to keep in mind that there are two kinds of NFC: simple NFC without secure chip and secure NFC. Simple NFC will conquer the markets with invincible user convenience in sharing, caring and paring. Sharing meaning touchable mobile content exchange, paring meaning amazingly easy Bluetooth paring and caring referring to use cases where you can communicate by simple touch. These simple NFC use cases will take the use of mobile device to a different level and at the same time build up the penetration of NFC devices and pave the way for secure NFC.

Secure NFC supports mobile proximity payments, which are at their best in busy, urban environments: buy your latte by touch&go or get your daily newspaper just by swiping your phone at a POS terminal. Technology as such will not bring added value or work as a marketing slogan, only usability and speed count. The NFC phones are there now, technology is tested and working, behind the scenes there is an on-going race to see who will be the first to the market. (Related Article: Musing from “Cartes 2010”: Is the NFC glass half-full or half-empty?)

Executive Bio: With a career that spans ten years with Nokia, Ms Nordlund worked in the research and development of NFC following the handset manufacturer’s decision to invest resources in this area. Once the concept began to advance, Ms Nordlund held several positions in NFC Business Development and Sales. During her first years at Nokia she worked in finance and control. More recently, Ms Nordlund was responsible for the sales in selected European markets at Venyon, a subsidiary of Giesecke & Devrient which provides trusted NFC services, a position which she held for three years.

Ms Nordlund holds a Master of Science degree in economics from Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration.