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BlackBerrys get stuck on NFC

RIM payments prove fruitful for MasterCard

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MasterCard Canada is trialling NFC payment stickers glued to the back of BlackBerrys, providing payment history through the wonder of push email.

Canada already uses MasterCard's PayPass system, contactless payments completed with a wave of a card, and the technology is easily embedded into a sticker allowing the BlackBerry to be used to make payments the details of which are then sent over email for the customer's records.

Using a sticker to attach an RFID - or Near Field Communications - chip to a mobile phone is nothing new. The problem is that it also doesn't add any great functionality as the payment mechanism isn't integrated with the phone.

MasterCard will be providing some integration by using emails to notify the user about the transaction, which is a lot cheaper than using SMS and can rely on RIM's secure network too.

It's easy to imagine a BlackBerry application for account management too, though the lack of connection between the handset and the chip would make adding credit difficult: for that we still need an NFC chip inside the handset.

Canada's Dexit system has been providing sticker-based transactions since 2001, but with limited success. These days the company only lists eight locations across Canada where you can still use Dexit. But thanks to the MasterCard backing, PayPass is accepted at more than 8500 locations in the country, any of which can now use the BlackBerry version.

It's not quite the dream of integrated payment systems, but it could provide a migration path for NFC payments. Or perhaps just another excuse to wave one's BlackBerry around. ®

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