Canada: Testing Ground or Promised Land for Mobile Payments?

by Istvan Fekete on February 5, 2014

When it comes to mobile payments, Canada has a major advantage compared to the US: about 75% of major retailers accept contactless payments. By comparison, in the US this drops to 2%.

 Contactless payments currently are the domain of chip-and-PIN cards tapped to contact-free terminals. But since the process is pretty cumbersome, the way is paved for “virtual wallet” technologies, which haven’t yet been able to penetrate the US.

This has created a fortunate momentum for Rogers. Canada’s No. 1 carrier not only provides wireless services, but has also stepped into the banking industry with a well-defined aim: to redefine mobile shopping. The carrier is launching Suretap, a mobile wallet that is projected to replace the physical wallet. It is a collection of all the ways users would want to pay, served up as they want them, when they want them.

The “secret” technology behind Suretap, however, is NFC (Near Field Communication) and it uses a chip that is immediately compatible with all contactless point-of-sale (POS) systems, and 1D and 2D barcodes for compatibility with non-NFC systems as well.

This means almost every smartphone – except the iPhone – will be compatible with Suretap. An impressive coverage. And it is preloaded on the smartphones Rogers sells, because it is a platform that developers can build on top of via APIs.

For card issuers such as MasterCard and Visa, Suretap means a cheap and fast way to obtain new clients. New cards can be provisioned real-time at Internet speed, cutting the cost of manufacturing and mailing.

Although Suretap sounds like one of the best solutions out there, there is one issue: Apple. But the company has been clear enough – until now – that it has no interest in NFC. Compatibility with the iPhone can’t be predicted, as the company is working on its own mobile payment solution.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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