RIM recently announced the launch of a pilot program that will test run a digital wallet operated by the Spanish Telecommunications agency, Telefonica, on the BlackBerry.
The project, which will involve 350 Telefonica employees at the company’s headquarters in Spain, will see employees using their BlackBerrys to pay for groceries and gas, as well as in place of their regular security cards at company headquarters.
What is a Digital Wallet?
This is the idea of a digital wallet: it replaces and replicates your physical wallet—it has all of your debit and credit cards, lets you check account balances and can even act as a key or security card.
The announcement of this pilot project, which comes six months after Google announced its own digital wallet, is definitely a positive move for the BlackBerry, which Telefonica says it chose for its security. Nevertheless, the digital wallet isn’t necessarily going to be a big cash maker for RIM.
After all, this isn’t the “BlackBerry Wallet,” this is the Telefonica Wallet, and there will be applications like the AT&T Wallet and even a Google Wallet, but there won’t be a BlackBerry Wallet. (Conceivably, however, there may be an Apple Wallet, but that is a whole other story.)
Basically, the carriers are the ones standing to profit here. Nevertheless, this is smart move for RIM. “What I think the RIM people are saying to their carrier partners is ‘When you want to offer your wallet we will support you,” explains Mark Beccue, senior mobile commerce analyst for ABI Research.
The Cutting Edge
RIM is also sending an important message to current and potential BlackBerry users with this pilot project: mainly, that RIM is dedicated to cutting-edge smartphone technology.
The release of the digital wallet application for the BlackBerry, and any subsequent releases of similar applications on other smartphones, will signify yet another way in which these devices become all the more indispensable to their users; why carry a wallet, a key and a phone when you can have it all in one small mobile package?