Transaction volume on China's Union Mobile Pay service exceeded $4.4 billion last year, the company said this week, the first time it has disclosed such numbers.

The number of registered users for the mobile payment service soared to 140 million at the end of 2009, up from 10 million at the end of 2006, a spokesman said.

Founded in 2004, Union Mobile Pay is a joint venture between China Mobile Ltd., the country's largest mobile operator, and China UnionPay, the nation's only payments network. Users can pay for a variety of services by sending text messages; the sales are charged to their mobile accounts.

Union Mobile Pay operates through a network of 18 banks, and it had partnerships at Dec. 31 with about 500 businesses that accepted mobile phone payments, the spokesman said. Examples include companies offering mobile and credit card bill payments and online ticket sales.

China Mobile has 554 million users.

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