Chip in new BlackBerrys opens door to use as ID

Thu Sep 15, 2011 11:25am EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - BlackBerry maker Research In Motion plans to open doors for its key corporate customers using a decade-old technology most in the smartphone industry eye as a way to turn phones into wallets.

Everyone from Nokia to Android developer Google plans to include near-field communications (NFC) technology in future devices as they seek to replace cash and cards for everything from coffee to concert and transport ticket purchases.

NFC enables data to be exchanged wirelessly over distances of a few centimeters, meaning mobile phones can be used to pay for goods, store electronic tickets, download music and swap photos and business cards.

But implementation of NFC for purchases has been stymied by the competing interests of banks, merchants, device makers and even wireless carriers all eager to get a cut.

"It is a very dynamic ecosystem, there are a lot of people involved, a lot of things that need to happen before a critical mass can be achieved," RIM's vice president for handheld software products, Andrew Bocking, said in an interview.

In the meantime, RIM will be leveraging its established role as smartphone of choice in offices and government buildings to gain physical access to those properties.

Office workers often swipe a plastic card at a reader to gain access to their building or activate the lift. There's a decent chance that card and the associated reader is made by HID Global, a part of Assa Abloy.

RIM and HID Global on Thursday said they had teamed up to enable users of new versions of RIM's Bold and Curve smartphones to tap them against a reader to gain access to their workplace or other controlled area.   Continued...

<p>A RIM logo is seen at the Research in Motion headquarters in Waterloo, November 16, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>