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Canadian Telco Rogers to Launch NFC Service This Month with Bank, BlackBerrys

Canada’s largest mobile operator, Rogers Communications, and one of the country’s largest card issuers, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, will launch an NFC-based mobile-payment service Nov. 16, with plans to expand the service early next year.

Rogers and CIBC announced the launch date Friday, along with the two initial NFC phone models available for the service, both older BlackBerry models. They said Rogers would add NFC-enabled Android and Windows Phone 8 models for its “suretap” NFC mobile-wallet service in early 2013.

“Being able to pay for goods with your phone is something we’re convinced that our clients and Canadians really want,” David Williamson, CIBC’s senior executive vice president and group head for retail and business banking, said in a video released with the launch announcement Friday. The telco and bank announced their intention to launch an NFC payment service last May.

Williamson said a phone survey conducted for the bank this summer showed that 44% of Canadians own smartphones, up from 33% a year earlier. And 47% of smartphone users in the survey, conducted by Harris/Decima, said they would consider using their phones to make credit card purchases.

“We were the first bank in Canada to introduce mobile banking,” he said. “The pickup on mobile banking has been twice the rate of online banking. So we know we’re onto something. So what we’re doing today is just taking mobile banking a step further and moving it into mobile payments.”

The bank said customers could download either a Visa payWave- or MasterCard PayPass-based credit application, along with the bank’s Mobile Payment app from the BlackBerry App World store.

The customers will have to order an NFC SIM from Rogers that supports suretap to store the application. Rogers is charging subscribers C$12.99 (US$13.05) for the new SIM cards.

At first, the SIMs will only work in the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and BlackBerry Curve 9360 models, both certified by both Visa and MasterCard. BlackBerry maker Research In Motion introduced the phones more than a year ago. Rogers did not say which Android or Windows Phone 8 models it plans to add for the suretap service early next year.

Consumers will be able to tap to pay with the CIBC mobile credit cards at tens of thousands of Visa payWave and MasterCard PayPass point-of-sale terminals in Canada for up to C$50 without a signature. The service will work on payWave and PayPass terminals elsewhere, as well.

An NFC mobile-payment launch in Canada has been widely expected this year, with the country boasting one of the highest usage rates of contactless cards and among the highest penetration of contactless POS terminals; and with Rogers an early backer of NFC technology.

CIBC will make both MasterCard PayPass and Visa payWave credit applications available for download by customers when it launches NFC service with Rogers Communications later this month. Canadians appear to be taking to contactless card payment more than in most countries. MasterCard has said 10% of transactions with MasterCard-branded cards are contactless in Canada. Since 2005, Canadian consumers have conducted more than 240 million PayPass credit transactions with contactless cards or stickers, by far the highest number of contactless credit transactions of any country during the period, according to MasterCard.

By one estimate, contactless point-of-sale terminals make up 20% of total POS terminals in the country. Among merchants accepting contactless are Petro-Canada, fast-food purveyor Tim Hortons, supermarket retailer Loblaws and café chain Second Cup.

MasterCard also said nearly all credit cards issued under its brand today are PayPass-enabled.

Among the contactless payment card issuers is the Royal Bank of Canada, which is also reportedly planning to launch NFC service this month, though it hasn’t said who its partners will be. Scotiabank and TD Canada Trust are issuing contactless cards, as well, and are likely to issue applications for NFC phones in the future.

In addition, Rogers has applied for banking license, which would enable it to issue its own mobile payment cards.

Rogers earlier confirmed it will be charging CIBC a rental fee for the bank to put its application onto the telco's SIM cards. Other telcos planning to use SIM cards as the secure element in their NFC phones are following this same SIM rental model.

But while Research In Motion recently announced it has been hired by EnStream LP, a joint venture of Canadian telcos Rogers, Bell Mobility and Telus, to offer trusted service management for the telcos, Rogers told NFC Times it has hired its own TSM for the suretap NFC launch with CIBC.

 

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