RIM Promotes P2P Applications for its NFC-enabled BlackBerrys

Research in Motion is promoting peer-to-peer applications in its NFC phones, announcing today a BlackBerry Tag feature that will be included in an update to its BlackBerry 7 operating system.

The update announced today will enable users to tap NFC-enabled BlackBerrys together to share contact information, documents, URLs, photos and other content. And users will be able to tap their phones to add one another as contacts for RIM’s instant messaging service, BlackBerry Messenger.

The BlackBerry Tag feature will be available on RIM’s first NFC phones, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930 and BlackBerry Curve 9350, 9360 and 9370, which have been released. These phones have an NFC chip inside but would need the update to the operating system to enable the special P2P feature.

RIM also said it plans to make application-programming interfaces available for app developers to use to “take advantage of ‘tap to share’ functionality from within their own applications.”

“BlackBerry Tag opens a new dimension to the BlackBerry platform that is powerful, simple and intuitive, and we think it will be welcomed by both users and developers,” said RIM’s co-CEO Jim Balsillie in a statement. Balsillie earlier today announced the P2P feature during a keynote speech at the Gitex conference in Dubai.

The announcement seems to make clear that the P2P exchanges of documents, URLs and photos, among other content using BlackBerry Tag, is only intended for BlackBerry users, not users of NFC phones supporting Android, Symbian or other platforms, at least not at first.

The BlackBerry NFC handsets have standard NFC chips, so it’s unclear whether developers would be able to adapt NFC phones using other operating systems to communicate in P2P mode with the BlackBerrys.

The NFC Forum only recently published a new standard NFC data exchange format for P2P communication, which will make it easier for developers to design P2P applications that work across platforms. But developers are able to bridge the gap now and enable NFC phones sporting different operating systems to talk to one another. Of course, if RIM built extra proprietary security into its BlackBerry Tag P2P software, developers wouldn't be able to construct cross-platform P2P apps. A RIM spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

It's also not clear whether RIM is talking about device pairing when it says BlackBerry Tag can enable users to transfer photos in P2P mode. Transmitting photos of any size would be time-consuming if sent strictly over the NFC interface. But using P2P mode, two NFC devices also could quickly open a Bluetooth or WiFi connection, which have much broader bandwidth than NFC.

RIM also has embedded secure chips in its NFC phones. In addition, the same phones are believed to support the single-wire protocol, enabling secure applications to be stored on SIM cards. RIM has not yet stated its plans for the embedded chips, but among them is likely to be enabling enterprises to store their corporate badges and other access-control and ID applications on the chips.

HEADLINE NEWS

‘No Way We were Going to Ask for Half a Billion Dollars…’

Unlike other major transit agencies in the U.S., which have spent hundreds of millions of dollars replacing or upgrading their fare-collection systems, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has taken a different approach.

UK Bus Operator Go-Ahead Reports Cash Usage has Plummeted Because of Covid, While Contactless Transactions have Surged

The Go-Ahead Group, one of the big five privately owned public bus operators in the UK, said today it has seen cash usage on board the nearly 3,000 buses it runs in England outside of London fall to 23% of transactions, down from 53% three years ago.

Transit Operator Arriva Launches MaaS App in Netherlands; Hints at Expansion to Other European Countries

Arriva, one of the largest private transit operators in Europe, has launched a mobility-as-a-service app in the Netherlands, using white-label software from Israel-based trip-planning app provider

Cal-ITP: Agencies in California Could Hold ‘Several More’ Open-Loop Fare Payments Pilots

The California Integrated Travel Project, or Cal-ITP, is “on track to have at least several more” open-loop pilots or demonstration projects, a spokeswoman for the program told Mobility Payments.

Exclusive: Australia’s Transport for New South Wales Sees ‘Significant Increase’ in Use of Mobile Wallets by Riders

Mobile wallets now make up more than half of all contactless payments for Transport for New South Wales, Australia’s largest transit agency, the agency confirmed to Mobility Payments.

Start-Up Aims to Encourage More Taxi Drivers to Accept Bank Cards for Fares in Turkey

A Turkish start-up hopes to entice more taxi drivers to accept contactless credit and debit cards using SoftPOS terminals on Android smartphones, under a scheme being rolled out by the local fintec

Moscow Metro Launches Test of Facial Recognition Fare Payments Ahead of Rollout; Agency Says Masks Can Slow Verification

Moscow Metro announced that it is officially testing facial recognition-based fare payments at turnstiles, with plans to roll out the technology by the end of the year.

Major Transit Agency to Test Virtual Closed-Loop Cards with Google Pay

Aug 8 2021

Moscow Metro is launching a trial of a virtual version of its closed-loop Troika card that will be added to the Google Pay wallet, the agency announced Wednesday.

WMATA in D.C. Rolling Out New Terminals but has No Immediate Plans to Support Open Loop

The Washington (D.C.) Metropolitan Area Transit Authority last month started to replace 1,200 aging fare gates for its 91-station metro system and starting next year will do the same with 20-plus year-old fareboxes on board 1,500 buses, including upgraded readers for its closed-loop SmarTrip cards.

Visa Touts Growth in Contactless, Continues to Push Open-Loop Payments

Visa reported this week that contactless payments continued to climb as a percentage of all face-to-face transactions with its brand, mainly at retail, and among the uses the network is continuing to push for contactless is to pay for transit fares.

MaaS Global CEO: Transit Agencies Should Not Control MaaS Platforms

Sampo Hietanen, founder and CEO of Finland-based MaaS Global, agrees with most other industry experts that public transit should form the “core” of the mobility services on offer in any MaaS app or platform. But he contends that it would be a mistake for the agency itself to control the platform.

Case Study: German City First to Go Live with Check-in/be-out System in Country

Despite the growing popularity of contactless, NFC and QR-code technologies for electronic fare-collection, some transit agencies are experimenting with other technologies to collect fares.