RIM to Release First NFC BlackBerry Models Later This Month

Aug 3 2011

Research in Motion today confirmed shipping dates for its first NFC-enabled phones, the Bold 9900 and closely related 9930 models, which RIM said would begin to become available from mobile carriers worldwide later this month.

RIM first announced the phones three months ago and executives had indicated they would be out before the end of August. RIM is touting the phones as the thinnest BlackBerry models yet. Both support the phone maker’s upgraded BlackBerry 7 operating system.

RIM announced three other models today, also supporting the BlackBerry 7 OS, though not NFC, as it seeks to recapture sagging market share in the United States and attempts to continue to expand globally.

The Canada-based phone maker said the five phones represented its largest single launch, and RIM noted that it has deals with at least 225 mobile operators to sell one or more of the new models. Of course, the 9900 and 9930 are practically the same phone, with the 9900 supporting tri-band cellular radio frequencies, which the 9930 doesn’t. Two of the other non-NFC devices that RIM announced today, part of its Torch series, are also similar.

Update: A spokeswoman for RIM told NFC Times that the Bold NFC models, or at least the 9900, would be the first of the phones announced today to be released–by the end of August. End update.

RIM, in its announcement today, like the one in early May first disclosing plans for the two NFC-enabled Bold models, did not mention the ability of the phones to support payment or other secure applications in its press material. That is despite the fact that the new Bold models are expected to pack embedded secure chips and also support applications on SIM cards, via a standard single-wire protocol connection. 

Instead, RIM mentioned tag-reading and device-pairing applications that the NFC chips inside the phones could offer in its press release. Update: But the spokeswoman said RIM plans to support contactless payment with its NFC phones. End update.

Sources have told NFC Times that RIM has been working on its own mobile wallet and may have plans to try to earn revenue from service providers putting their applications on the embedded secure elements. RIM could offer its own applications, as well, such as physical access control to complement its network-authentication services.

If true, RIM would need to control the embedded secure chip in the phones, and this could make for some tension with carriers, which RIM is counting on to buy the phones. RIM executives speaking at conferences earlier this year have not denied they would have embedded secure elements in their NFC phones, but have stayed mum when asked what they would use the chips for. 

It’s little surprise then that in its announcement today, RIM only mentioned the benefits of NFC as a way to “pair accessories or read smart-poster tags with a simple tap of the smartphone.”

There was no mention by RIM of mobile wallets or the phones working in card-emulation mode, which most payment services would use. But among telcos expected to introduce the phone for NFC are those in Europe, which have been anticipating the shipment date for the models. And these telcos definitely plan to offer payment and ticketing applications that would use card emulation on the phones.  

France-based Inside Secure is supplying the NFC chips for the two models. Inside is working on its own secure element design, but is expected to have used an embedded secure chip provided by Germany-based Infineon Technologies for the new RIM phones. The Infineon secure chip is stacked with Inside’s NFC radio chip.

Since the NFC chips for the new Bold models also are expected to allow for applications to be stored on SIM cards via the single-wire protocol, or SWP, there could be at least two secure elements in the phone.  

It remains unclear how many more NFC-enabled BlackBerrys RIM will release this year. Executives have said earlier this year that many if not most of its phones would support NFC, though have been vague on release dates. RIM did not mention that the three other handsets it announced today, additions to its Torch series, the Torch 9810, 9850 and 9860, support NFC.

A source has told NFC Times that he expected RIM to introduce one to two more NFC-enabled BlackBerrys this year.

HEADLINE NEWS

Apple Pay Enables Ventra Closed-Loop Fare Card in Chicago after Long Delay

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Apple has finally made good on plans to enable fare payments through Apple Pay with the closed-loop Ventra card from the Chicago Transit Authority, or CTA, the latest major closed-loop card the tech giant has enabled in recent months.

Visa Rolls Out SoftPOS technology as It Seeks to Promote Acceptance of Contactless by More Small and Micro-Merchants

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight -  Visa is rolling out what it calls “Tap to Phone” technology to 15 global markets, as it seeks to enable millions of small and micro-merchants that now mainly take cash to also accept contactless EMV credit and debit cards and credentials on NFC devices.

Trip-Planning Apps Moovit and Transit Enable Ticketing and Payments for Another Transit Agency

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Multimodal trip-planning apps Moovit and Transit have introduced ticketing and payments in their apps for another North American transit agency, following an emerging trend for trip-planning apps to enable users to plan, book and pay for their rides all in one place. The app providers are offering the extra service as they seek ways to give users a better mobility-as-a-service experience.

Australia’s Commonwealth Bank Seeks to Expand Involvement in Public Transit and Other Mobility Payments Projects

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the acquirer and processor for the open-loop payments service rolled out by Transport for New South Wales in Sydney, says it is negotiating with transit officials in other Australian states to help launch similar payments services. It also hopes to be involved in payments for mobility-as-a-service platforms.

Report: Nearly Two-Thirds of Survey Respondents Say They’ve Used Contactless Cards During Pandemic

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – There’s more evidence that the Covid-19 pandemic is helping to change the way that consumers pay, with more use of contactless cards, mobile wallets and e-commerce channels, according to the “World Payments Report 2020” published Tuesday by global consulting firm Capgemini.

UK Public Transit Officials in Midlands Seek to Replicate London’s Success in Pay-as-You-Go Contactless

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Transit officials in the Midlands in the UK today are calling on the government to fund a London-style contactless fare-payments system across this large section of the country, which would enable riders to tap to pay for trips on rail, bus and tram networks with either closed- and open-loop cards and credentials on smartphones.  

Post-Lockdown, Transit Riders Want Agencies to Run Vehicles More Frequently, Provide Real-Time Arrival Information and Offer Contactless and Mobile Payments

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight - Up to a third of transit riders in several cities say contactless payments and mobile ticketing would encourage them to return t

New York’s OMNY Project Completes Major Milestone, as Transit Officials Point to Steady Growth in Adoption

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it is seeing steady growth in use of its OMNY open-loop fare payments system by customers–though overall open-loop payments remain small–as the agency continues its phased rollout of acceptance of contactless EMV bank cards and NFC Pays wallets. 

In-Depth: Trip-Planning Giant Moovit Begins to Enable Ticketing and Payments, as Rivals Make Similar Moves

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Moovit, which bills itself as the world's largest “urban mobility app,” has begun to enable public transit ticketing and payments from its platform, as it seeks to deliver what it says is a true mobility-as-a-service experience for users.

Los Angeles Transit Authority Follows Through with Plans to Enable TAP Card for Apple Pay; Google Pay to Follow

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Another major U.S. transit agency has introduced a virtual closed-loop card for Apple Pay this week, with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro, announcing the move Thursday. It comes a couple of days after the Washington (D.C.) Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or WMATA, announced it had put its SmarTrip closed-loop card on Apple’s NFC-enabled devices, as well.

Apple Enables Virtual SmarTrip Fare Card for Apple Pay in Washington, D.C., with More Closed-Loop Transit Cards Expected This Year in U.S.

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Apple added support for its latest closed-loop transit card for Apple Pay, enabling customers of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or WMATA, to tap their NFC-enabled iPhones and Apple Watches to pay for rides with WMATA’s SmarTrip virtual card.

Insight: Apple’s Long Game Pays Off, Conquering Resistance to Apple Pay from Banks in Europe and Beyond

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – It’s coming up on six years since Apple announced its groundbreaking digital-payments service, Apple Pay. And while consumer adoption remains a work in progress, Apple has had considerable success gaining participation from banks and other issuers in what is now more than 50 countries worldwide.