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BlackBerry strikes three-year mobile payment agreement with EnStream

BlackBerry has struck a three-year mobile payment agreement with EnStream, a joint venture between Canada's three biggest telecom companies, Bell (TSX:BCE), Rogers Communications (TSX:RCI.B) and Telus (TSX:T).

Under the partnership, BlackBerry will provide security technology that supports transactions between customers and banks made through their mobile devices. The wireless payment technology is known as near-field communication.

Financial details of the transaction with BlackBerry (TSX:BB) were not disclosed.

Mobile payment technology has been a growing focus for telecommunications companies as they develop new ways for shoppers to pay with their smartphones at the cash register.

"EnStream, with BlackBerry, is already serving a number of banks and mobile operators, and is becoming a hub for payment credential delivery to smartphones in Canada," said EnStream's chief operating officer, Almis Ledas.

"We expect most major Canadian banks and mobile operators to connect through this platform to meet consumer demand for efficient and safe digital transactions."

Canadian financial institutions like Royal Bank (TSX:RY), TD Bank (TSX:TD), CIBC (TSX:CM) and Quebec-based Desjardins are all included in the agreement.

Mobile phone security has been a foundation of BlackBerry's business, both within its smartphone devices and through services it provides its biggest customers.

The company's encryption technology is U.S. government-level privacy certified, which has made it attractive for agencies that handle highly sensitive information that want to protect it from being decoded for international or corporate espionage.

BlackBerry struck a preliminary agreement with EnStream in late 2012 before the launch of its most recent wave of BlackBerry 10 smartphones.

Since then, the smartphone company has launched BBM Money in Indonesia, which allows BlackBerry Messenger users to make banking transactions through their phone.

Near-field payment options have taken years to materialize in Canada, and still aren't widely used by consumers, though several of the country's biggest banks have launched their own mobile payment smartphone apps.

Earlier this year, Rogers released the Suretap virtual wallet, which lets customers pay with their phones at a limited selection of retailers using either giftcards or a prepaid Mastercard.

But not every smartphone on the market supports wireless tap technology. Apple's iPhone doesn't have it built in, though it's available on recent Samsung Galaxy and Note models, BlackBerry 10 devices and other phones sold at major wireless carriers.

BlackBerry has been prioritizing its services businesses since CEO John Chen stepped into the leadership position late last year amid flagging sales of its smartphones.

Aside from mobile payments, the Waterloo, Ont.-based company is also focused on attracting more long-term business customers and growing the operations of its QNX software division, which developed the most recent BlackBerry operating system and is a major player for dashboard technology in the automotive industry.

Shares of BlackBerry were eight cents higher at $8.54 on Thursday near midday at the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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The Canadian Press


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