Report: Rogers Betting Big on NFC

by Gaurav Kheterpal on August 23, 2011

Rogers holds several “firsts” in the Canadian wireless arena.  It was the first carrier in North America to roll out an HSPA+ network with speeds up to 21 Mbps. Last month, it became the ‘first Canadian Carrier‘ to launch LTE. Earlier this month, the company scored another first as it launched a ‘Smart Home Monitoring Service‘ – a security system that allows homeowners to control appliances remotely using a smartphone.

Will Rogers be the first Canadian carrier to introduce NFC-enabled mobile payments? In the past, Rogers has indicated that it would be glad to serve as a ‘middleman‘ for NFC mobile payments systems. A recent report from NFC Times suggests Rogers is gearing up for an NFC mobile-payment launch by the end of the first quarter of 2012.

The NFC Times report indicates that Rogers is planning a new NFC mobile wallet service of its own. In fact, it’s already working with TD bank and Visa for trials. The report suggests that Rogers may choose NOT to work with its competitors to lock down the NFC market. Speculations suggest Rogers may choose to work with Toronto-Dominion Bank Group, a major Visa card issuer, with 4 million card accounts.

The report suggests that Rogers Wireless may become a TSM (trusted service manager) and control the apps and data that is housed on the SIM card. The other alternative is to use an embedded secure element that comes already built inside a phone, thereby allowing users to transfer to different carriers with ease. Early indications suggest Rogers might launch its mobile wallet as a well locked-down affair.

In the past, Rogers has always maintained that mobile contactless payments will be a new revenue stream for Rogers Wireless, but adopted a cautious outlook on how big that stream would be. The company expects every Canadian with a smartphone to be able to pay with proximity devices at many large retailers by 2015. The company said it would distribute NFC phones but did not reveal a timeframe as the carrier continues to work with GSMA to pressure handset makers to develop NFC phones.

Though Rogers has declined to comment on the NFC Times report, there’s no denial that the company is an active proponent of mobile payment technology. Last year, it joined hands with Bell and Telus to launch ZoomPass – a quick and easy way to transfer funds from a credit card, bank account or a  dedicated Zoompass account. EnStream subsequently removed all fee for person-to-person money transfers done using the ZoomPass mobile wallet service.

In the past, the ‘Big Three’ have worked together on mobile payment technology. However, given the cut-throat competition in the wireless segment and the massive early mover advantage that’s at stake, it won’t be surprising if Rogers decides to go solo on its NFC efforts.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby: RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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