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Bank of America launch BlackBerry NFC payment trial

  • By Timothy Roberts
  • Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Following on from Gerry McQuade’s announcement of Near Field Communications technology in Research in Motion’s BlackBerry devices, we talked about their use in the upcoming contactless payment trial in the UK. It now looks like that RIM are going to be in the payments game much sooner than that.

Bank of America have now started a small trial of the BlackBerry powered “Mobile Wallet” with selected customers in the US. With the NFC BlackBerry devices not yet available, those deciding to join the trial (who must have either a Curve 8520 or 9530, Bold 9000, 9650 or 9700, or the Tour 9630 models) will receive a new battery cover that holds an NFC chip and software for the smartphone.

The trial, starting this spring, runs for “a few months” and users will be encouraged to pay with their smartphone as often as possible.

The expectation is that bank of America are going to choose customers that are in a tight geographic area, who have a record of making lots of small payments, are as a group they are likely to be using similar stores and locations (so the readers can be in convenient locations). It might be a slightly self selecting trial, but the goal here is to find out the problems and issues in general usage. As contactless payment drives forward, it’s vital for the banking industry to have as much real world knowledge and data points as possible.

And to be able to say that they were “first” in the marketing campaigns that are sure to follow.