Bank of America, which last fall tested iPhone mobile payments among a group of employees who ride the New York City subway system, is planning a similar trial for BlackBerry users that will begin March 28 in San Francisco, Atlanta and New York. The bank will work with existing contactless payment partners Visa and DeviceFidelity and it will invite customers as well as bank employees to participate.
In September, BofA and three other banks (Chase, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank) joined a mobile payment trial in New York City's subway system that was originated by MasterCard and later embraced by Visa. This trial tested a microSD chip made by DeviceFidelity that contains a nearfield communication radio and is inserted into the memory slot of a smart phone (or in a special case designed for the iPhone, which doesn't have a memory card). Riders waved their iPhones close to subway turnstiles that accept Visa payWave or Microsoft PayPass cards and devices to pay for their rides. "That trial is over, but we will test the iphone again," says spokeswoman Tara Burke. "We don't release specifics of lessons learned, but we can tell you that from the New York trial, we learned a lot of customer preferences and behaviors. We took the learnings and made some changes and enhancements, which we will test in the trial in San Francisco, New York and Atlanta."
The upcoming trial will focus on BlackBerry phones and use similar technology from DeviceFidelity and Visa. Participants will be sent battery covers and DeviceFidelity microSD cards that work with Visa payWave. The technology reportedly is available for the BlackBerry Curve 8520 and 8530, the BlackBerry Tour 9630, and the BlackBerry Bold 9000, 9650, and 9700.