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Citi and SK Telecom Enter Mobile Banking Partnership

Citi announced it is entering a partnership with South Korea's SK Mobile aimed at developing a more comprehensive and advanced set of mobile financial services and technologies.

Called Mobile Money Ventures, the joint venture will leverage SK Telecom's expertise in the tech savvy Korean mobile market, with services like Moneta and M-bank, and Citi's products, global marketing capabilities, and vast customer base. New features will include mobile phone "tap"-based payments using NFC technology, budget planning and tracking, expense management and location based advertisements and discounts, the companies said in a release.

Mobile Money Ventures will go into beta testing with Citi customers in select markets in the second half of 2008.

According to Aite Group senior analyst, Nick Holland, this venture has much potential to bring many advancements in m-banking to the U.S. market. "Citi is partnering with a mobile operator that is very determined to build presence in the U.S. market," Holland said in a statement. "They will not be able to compete directly with the existing players for a piece of the U.S. market, but by thinking laterally around alternative methods of bringing services to market, they may find greater success. Further, because SK Telecom is deeply integrated with Korean handset vendors, they could viably accelerate bringing NFC handset technology to the U.S."

The joint venture company will be equally owned and funded by both SK Telecom and Citi. The company will be managed by a joint board that will consist of six executives, three from each company. The technology, development operations, and staff of Mobile Money Ventures will be based in San Francisco.

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