Early last month, Research In Motion (RIM) co-CEO Jim Balsille promised the majority of new BlackBerry devices shipping soon will integrate near field communication (NFC) technologies. Speaking at a Westminster eForum yesterday, UK MD Stephen Bates confirmed RIM will be putting NFC into almost all of its devices.
"NFC is going to open up new technologies in the mobile environment, and the opportunities are endless. As such, we are going to deploy NFC in virtually all our devices, and will build ecosystems to exploit this technology," ZDNet quoted him as saying.
Now there are reports of a trial they have undertaken. According to BGR, RIM has tied up with Bank of America for a ‘mobile wallet' trial.
Bank of America will be sending selected testers a new battery cover in addition to a microSD card. The BlackBerry Curve 8520 and 8530, BlackBerry Bold 9000, 9650 and 9700 and BlackBerry Tour 9630 are all NFC-enabled to support the trial. Payments can be made where Mastercard's PayPass is accepted.
Howard Wilcox, senior analyst at Juniper Research, confirmed the news of the trial, without mentioning RIM's involvement, however. He also noted that the trial will run from September until the end of the year along with Visa. "With the increasing number of announcements from major players in the market, the day when NFC will become a standard smartphone feature like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi is not too far," he said.
Previously Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile, said at MWC that it will launch an NFC service known as ‘mobile wallet' in Europe this year. Third parties, such as banks, transport companies and event organizers might also benefit from its service.
As security is key to success and adaptation of all NFC applications, Deutsche Telekom will introduce solutions based on international security standards for payment services. Additional security functions will be included, for example: the locking of applications and data in case of mobile theft or loss.
With leading gadget makers and mobile operators committing themselves to deployment of mobile NFC, using the SIM as the secure element to provide authentication, security and portability, the market potential for NFC is growing rapidly. The technology was one of the highlights of this year's MWC, and we expect to be hearing a lot more about it from now on.