Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) is locked in a dispute with Canadian and American wireless carriers over which party will control customers' mobile-payment credentials, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The conflict is an interesting test-case over whether carriers or platform companies such as RIM, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will be the dominant player in mobile payments.
The report which cited unnamed sources within carriers, said the dispute centers on where the credentials are stores on NFC-enabled smartphones. The operators want the data stored on the devices' SIM cards while RIM wants the data on a secure part of its BlackBerry gadgets in a bid to make carriers less important in the equation and to tie customers to its devices.
RIM has made no secret of its intentions to add NFC capabilities to its smartphones. "Many, if not most, of BlackBerry devices throughout the year will have NFC in them," RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie said during a keynote address at the Mobile World Congress trade show in February.
The Journal report confirmed that RIM is working with MasterCard and Bank of America on a mobile payments trial in New York City, which was first rumored in February. The report said Bank of America sent out memory cards with NFC-enabled chips to BlackBerry subscribers, and that the companies plan to expand the trials to Atlanta and San Francisco in the next few months.
Jim Tobin, RIM's senior vice president of software and business services, declined to comment on the company's mobile-payment plans to the Journal, but said RIM's "mode of being carrier supportive will continue."
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) integrated NFC support into Android 2.3, and is rumored to be mulling mobile payment trials. Meanwhile, Isis, the mobile payments joint venture from Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA, has inked deals with merchants, though the company is still not saying which ones or when the service will launch. Additionally, according to a Forbes report, which cited an unnamed source, Apple's next iPhone will have NFC capabilities, contrary to a recent report in the The Independent.
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Forbes article
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