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MasterCard launches PayPass trial on BlackBerry devices

MasterCard Canada has launched a trial of its PayPass payment service with Research In Motion’s BlackBerry smartphones.

The two companies, in partnership with Bank of Montreal (BMO), are bringing contactless payments to BlackBerry devices. The trial is only open to employees of MasterCard, BMO and RIM to demonstrate the functionality of the service.

“We were interested in working with BlackBerry to try integrated payments on smartphones,” said Scott Lapstra, vice president of market development at MasterCard Canada, Toronto. “Research In Motion is a leader in smartphones and located in Canada, so it was a natural partnership for us.”

MasterCard Worldwide develops and markets payment solutions, processes more than 21 billion transactions each year and provides analysis and consulting services to financial institution customers and merchants.

BMO is a Canadian-based North American bank, established in 1817.

Testing out PayPass
MasterCard PayPass is a contactless mobile payment service that is ideal for traditional cash-heavy environments where speed is emphasized.

As of the third quarter of 2009, there are more than 66 million MasterCard PayPass cards and devices in use at more than 174,000 merchant locations worldwide such as Rabba Fine Foods, Cineplex Odeon, Tim Hortons Petro-Canada, Pioneer Petroleums and McDonald’s, as well as Loblaw Companies stores across Canada.

In Canada, there are 8,500 merchant locations that accept MasterCard PayPass.

MasterCard said that for the first time, the mobile payment platform will integrate with the mobile device.

A confirmation email of each transaction will be sent to the BlackBerry smartphone. The email will include purchase details such as the amount, retailer and date of transaction.

The mobile payments in the trial are made possible through a PayPass mobile tag, a self-adhesive device that is attached to a BlackBerry handset to add the MasterCard PayPass contactless payment capability.

The mobile tag contains the same chip and antenna found in a regular PayPass card. However, it also comes with special material to reduce interference between the mobile tag and the phone it is attached to.

Mr. Lapstra said the goals of the trial are demonstrating the utility of contactless payments on BlackBerry smartphones and the integration of email confirmation.

“We believe we’ll see commercialized payment tags in Canada in 2010, perhaps with RIM and other players, after this trial demonstrates the market utility,” Mr. Lapstra said.