My sources tell me that Hansabanka, the Latvian commercial bank owned by Sweden's Swedbank (called Föreningssparbanken in Swedish to twist even the tongues of the natives), has brainstormed the idea of becoming an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator, had to look it up myself ;)). Hansabanka is trying to stay ahead of the curve on all kinds of customer operated, distance services (internet, mobile bank, etc.). Looking ahead to the day when mobiles will serve as payment cards (that is, the payment card will be a function of the SIM card), it has occured to some people at Hansabanka that one might as well provide the whole service and sell a bank-branded prepaid/payment card hybrid. Or maybe skip the prepaid, just set a limit on what can be spend calling on the phone, and authorize other mobile payments via the SIM card.
I think it fits in with a vision I had of when the mobile phone may partly replace the laptop once public or low-cost rental docks/screens/keyboards are available. Think of it, you check into a hotel and simply pop your superphone 2007 (or whenever) into a socket, and the monitor lights up. You have your 60 Gbs of data and applications on the phone, and you automatically get debited (or you get it as an amenity) for superfast internet, etc.
All this about Hansbanka is pure conjecture, any idea of tacking on an MVNO to the mobile payment services was just an idea floating about that makes certain logical sense.
Zetcom launches granny & kiddie card
Hello! Zetcom, the Latvian MVNO has launched a new low-cost prepaid called, yes, Hello! that will retail for LVL 1 and include a magnetic stripe card with the kit (which includes a SIM card). You use the card at authorised retailers, swipe it and pay in as much money as you want to increase the calling credit. Notification of the increae comes almost instantly by SMS. LVL 1 also buys exactlty LVL 1 in calls, at a rate of LVL 0.064 per minute to other Hello! customers and LVL 0.12 to other services. Calling outside of Latvia is at Amigo rates, and there is no roaming or GPRS. It is very much a no frills card and is expected not to cannibalize the Amigo card very much.
Zetcom board chairman Egils Trumpe agreed that the card was a product "aimed at grannies and their grandchildren" or kids of pre-teen age.