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BlackBerry responds to Apple Pay by enhancing BBM mobile payments

Perhaps sensing an opportunity from Apple’s recent security gaffes, BlackBerry today unveiled a series of new initiatives designed to enhance the mobile payment capabilities for BlackBerry Messenger users. Are Apple’s security woes an opening for BlackBerry?

While Apple maintains the hacking scandal that resulted in nude pics of celebrities including Kate Upton and Jennifer Lawrence had nothing to do with the security of its iCloud platform, the event could not have been more ill-timed. Days later, the tech giant unveiled a new mobile payments system called Apple Pay with the launch of its iPhone 6.

Apple will try to do what Google and PayPal could not: take mobile payments mainstream. With partners such as MasterCard, Visa, and American Express it would be unwise to doubt that the company has at least a fighting chance. But a security scandal involving cash could quickly derail consumer confidence in Apple.

“Even a well-designed and genuinely useful payment system won’t catch on if people lose confidence in Apple’s security,” said Yahoo’s Aaron Pressman following the launch.

Perhaps sensing an opportunity, BlackBerry today unveiled a series of new initiatives designed to enhance the mobile payment capabilities for BlackBerry Messenger users. Using Indonesia as a test market, the company announced its BBM Money service would go cross-platform and be available to Android and iOS users. BBM allows for payments online and at participating retailers, offering “bank-grade security measures including passcodes and encryption and leveraging BlackBerry’s expertise and legacy in security and privacy,” said the company today.

BlackBerry also announced that BBM will integrate with a service called TransferTo, which enables users to mobile credit to BBM users overseas.

“By combining our DNA around security, and the real-time collaboration and privacy attributes of BBM, we are uniquely placed in the growing mobile payments space,” said John Sims, President Global Enterprise Services at BlackBerry. “These new mobile payments partnerships demonstrate how we have effectively evolved BBM from the best real-time chat experience to a true social engagement and e-commerce platform. Whether it’s sending pictures and files to groups or contacts; sharing their location or sending money or airtime – all from within the BBM app – our users’ real-time engagement experience will continue to get richer.”

The question, of course, is one of scope. How many participating retailers can BBM hope to sign up? A spokesman for BlackBerry today told Cantech Letter that the company has “no short-term plans to make BBM Money available in other markets”. Surely the number of retailers onboard even it does expand will amount to no more than a fraction of the reach of Apple Pay.

But add a security breach that involves cash and not nude celebrity pics to the mix and BlackBerry will have no trouble turning the conversation back to its own strengths.

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About The Author /

Nick Waddell
Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.

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