The BlackBerry Bold 9900 and BlackBerry Curve 9360 have become the first SIM-based smartphones to earn the MasterCard PayPass certification. This means that MasterCard is confident that the two mobile devices meet its functionality, interoperability and security requirements to be certified as PayPass-approved devices. Issuing banks are hence allowed to assign a PayPass account to the SIM cards used in the two smartphones to work with the NFC-based, or near field communication, payment system.
While MasterCard's contactless payment system was rolled out years ago, it was only earlier this year that the company announced the inclusion of SIM-based systems.
In a prepared statement, Andrew Bocking, Vice President, Handheld Software Product Management at RIM said, "NFC technology is making smartphones even smarter and the MasterCard certification is a significant step forward in helping transform the way we use mobile devices for payments. We are working proactively with our carrier partners, banks, retailers and other industry players and we are excited to push the boundaries of how NFC can enable new mobile experiences for BlackBerry smartphone users around the world."
The Bold 9900 and Curve 9360 are two of the latest smartphones from RIM that runs on the BlackBerry 7 OS, incorporating built-in NFC hardware. This means that a separate radio antenna will transmit the requisite payment details wirelessly to a high-speed reader at checkout. The NFC radio can be switched off if desired.
The certification from Mastercard will be a shot in the arm for NFC projects around the world. Interest in NFC is increasing, and mobile devices have been tipped to spur adoption given the ubiquity of phones in both developing and developed countries.
In Singapore, IDA and seven companies will invest S$40 million into NFC to eventually allow banks and card issuers to connect via a common infrastructure, as reported by Channel News Asia just last week. The report mentioned selected models from Nokia, Samsung and RIM. This presumably includes the Bold 9900 and Curve 9360.