RIM vows NFC payment capabilities on new BlackBerry phones
BARCELONA, Spain--Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) co-CEO Jim Balsillie promises the majority of new BlackBerry devices shipping in the coming months will integrate Near Field Communications technologies, enabling support for mobile payment solutions and other location-specific services. "Many if not most of BlackBerry devices throughout the year will have NFC in them," Balsillie said during an appearance here at Mobile World Congress 2011. Balsillie first indicated RIM's interest in NFC last November during the Web 2.0 conference, saying "We'd be fools not to" when asked whether the device maker planned to roll out NFC support.
Near Field Communications contactless technology enables consumers to conduct transactions by waving an NFC-enabled smartphone in front of a corresponding digital reader unit. Late last year, operators Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA partnered to launch Isis, a nationwide mobile commerce network slated to begin offering NFC payment services in key geographic markets within the next 18 months. Isis CEO Michael Abbott--a financial services veteran most recently with GE Capital--has said the ultimate goal is the development of a mobile solution that effectively renders obsolete cash, credit and debit cards, loyalty cards, coupons, tickets and transit passes.
NFC is emerging as one of the hot trends here at Mobile World Congress 2011. On Tuesday, Deutsche Telekom announced it will introduce a Mobile Wallet service enabling T-Mobile subscribers to purchase goods, event tickets and transit passes as well as participate in retailer rewards programs via wireless device. Slated to roll out in Germany and Poland in 2011, with the U.S., the Netherlands and the Czech Republic to follow next year, the Mobile Wallet initiative will leverage NFC-capable smartphones from Samsung. "We see mobile payments as a very large revenue opportunity," said Deutsche Telekom CTO Ed Kozel.
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