As BlackBerry’s smartphone sales continue to suffer, most people believe it should shift gears and become a platform and services company. BlackBerry is heeding that advice. On Thursday it signed a new three-year deal with Canadian payments outfit EnStream to secure the credit card information in Canadians’ smartphones.
EnStream is a joint venture between Bell Mobility, Rogers Wireless and Telus. It provides the back-end technology necessary for those carriers to let their customers make credit card payments with their smartphones using near-field communications (NFC). EnStream is basically the Canadian equivalent of Isis (a venture between Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile), but instead of providing a unified mobile wallet directly to consumers, EnStream lurks in the background, powering the mobile wallets developed by its carrier members and individual banks.
BlackBerry comes in with its highly secure enterprise communications infrastructure, which has been routing businesses’ email to mobile devices for a decade. BlackBerry already had a deal in place in with EnStream to provide security software that managed subscriber information on EnStream SIM cards, but today’s deal means BlackBerry will be shepherding transaction payment data from smartphones to the bank.
According to MobileSyrup, NFC payments are starting to emerge in Canada, with all three EnStream mobile carriers launching a mobile wallet this year. Canada’s major financial institutions — Royal Bank of Canada, TD Bank Group, CIBC and Desjardins – are also working with EnStream, sticking their cards in the carriers’ mobile wallets as well as launching their own wallets.