Here is another piece of great news from BlackBerry. It is more proof that under CEO John Chen, BlackBerry is not just standing still but continuing to innovate
JAKARTA, INDONESIA, Sep 18, 2014 (Marketwired via COMTEX) — BlackBerry(R) Limited BBRY, -0.45% (BB), a global leader in mobile communications, announced a series of new initiatives today that will enhance the mobile payment capabilities for users of BBM(TM), the private social network available for smartphones running Android(R), BlackBerry, iOS or Windows Phone(R). These new initiatives will take the ability to connect and share using BBM one step further.
“By combining our DNA around security, and the real-time collaboration and privacy attributes of BBM, we are uniquely placed in the growing mobile payments space,” said John Sims, President Global Enterprise Services at BlackBerry. “These new mobile payments partnerships demonstrate how we have effectively evolved BBM from the best real-time chat experience to a true social engagement and e-commerce platform. Whether it’s sending pictures and files to groups or contacts; sharing their location or sending money or airtime – all from within the BBM app – our users’ real-time engagement experience will continue to get richer.”
BBM has been widely reported to be one of the most popular messaging applications in Indonesia. With the monthly active user count having grown by 150% over the past 12 months, and with Indonesia having only 11% debit card penetration1 and the 2nd fastest rate of e-commerce growth after China2, it is an ideal target market for BBM Money.
Developed by Monitise and issued and managed by PermataBank, BBM Money was initially made available in early 2013 to BlackBerry users, offering basic mobile wallet services. The new BBM Money will also be made available to Android and iOS smartphone users, regardless of who they bank with or whether they have a bank account. The new BBM Money will enable payments in participating retail stores and online, while continuing to benefit from bank-grade security measures including passcodes and encryption and leveraging BlackBerry’s expertise and legacy in security and privacy.
Earlier this year, BlackBerry launched BBM Channels giving Indonesia’s largest brands and retailers a social presence on BBM. “Many of these brands and retailers have a huge following on BBM,” says Matthew Talbot, SVP for Emerging Solutions, BlackBerry. “When you realize the amount of time that is spent using BBM to engage with friends, family and now brands, linking payments was a logical extension.”
“PermataBank plays a vital role in enabling BBM Money in Indonesia. In addition to acting as the issuing bank, obtaining necessary licenses and meeting the regulations of the central Bank of Indonesia, PermataBank will use its enterprise payments expertise in working with retailers to increase adoption of BBM Money as a simpler way to pay,” said Bianto Surodjo, Retail Banking Director, PermataBank.
“Simplifying the payment and checkout process while maintaining bank grade security standards is vital for both consumers and retailers,” says Darren Sugden, EVP, Monitise Asia Pacific. “We have always believed in the power of partnerships and by combining the strengths of BlackBerry and PermataBank with our 10 years of experience in mobile financial services we have developed a service that puts Indonesia at the forefront of mobile payments and commerce innovations.”
BBM Integration with TransferTo for Person To Person Airtime Remittance
TransferTo is the leading global provider of international airtime remittance. Its services enable the transfer of prepaid mobile credit across borders, allowing customers to send airtime to their friends and relatives. Complementing BlackBerry’s extensive mobile network operator relationships, TransferTo works with over 350 MNO’s in 100+ countries, reaching over 3.6 billion prepaid users.
BBM will integrate with TransferTo’s airtime transfer services – meaning users can send prepaid mobile credit to their contacts overseas, seamlessly from within the BBM app.
“Integrating TransferTo’s global airtime remittance network with BBM will provide a simple and seamless way to enable small value transfers between people. As almost 80% of mobile users are prepaid, sending prepaid airtime will enable BBM users to stay in touch with their friends and family overseas. Moreover, the added simplicity of the service will be a win for end users, while providing our mobile operator partners the opportunity to leverage the reach and level of engagement of the BBM user base,” said Eric Barbier, CEO, TransferTo.
At its introduction in 2005, BBM set the standard for mobile messaging, and has since launched cross-platform extending its secure instant messaging capabilities to users of Android, iOS and Windows Phone devices. BlackBerry is committed to the continued evolution of BBM from the best real-time chat app to a true social engagement platform. Recent BBM updates have added file- and location-sharing capabilities to boost the productivity of users, as well as the BBM Shop, from which users can download virtual goods such as stickers.
What we have folks is real innovation. BBM money will work on all the major platforms, IOS, Android, Windows and both BBOS and BB10. And BBM is available in the app store for all of these platforms, so potential customers who don’t have it will have the ability to easily download and activate it from iTunes, Google Play, BlackBerry World or the Windows Store. So if really takes off, it has the potential to reach a lot more people, even if the choose on using another device.
This is not just like the series of “Smoke and Mirrors” announcements from Apple at its iPhone 6 launch event. They announced to great fanfare:
- Increasing the size of its new iPhone handset to 5.5 inches. Not that significant as other handsets have been available in that size for several years
- Finally introducing the NFC feature that have existed in other platforms since 2011
- Introducing a mobile payment system called Apple Pay, which will initially only be launched in the USA and will only work on iPhone 6 and later devices and not on any of its current devices. There are other NFC enabled payment systems that have existed throughout the world for several years.
Taking into account the fact that Apple’s market-share is not only shrinking in the USA, but also throughout the world, as reported in the highly reputable Forbes magazine in an article titled “Can Apple Halt Its Eroding Market Share?” it remains to be seen how effective Apple Pay will end up being, with a majority of consumers not using iPhone devices for their smartphones.
The other thing to consider is that out of the existing group of iPhone users, only a small sub-set of this group will have the iPhone 6 device capable of using the Apple Pay system. So Apple has infact shut the majority of its users from even having the ability of using this payment system, even if they wanted to use it. The only option for them is to shell out an extra $700 to $1000 to buy a new iPhone 6 device in order to have the privilege of using it.
For BlackBerry, this means that they are further enhancing the capabilities of BBM, which will not only improve customer satisfaction, but will play a vital role as part of the turnaround strategy. It includes generating a larger portion of its revenue from its other divisions while reducing its dependency on handset sales. BBM enhancements is part of the grand plan to monetize BBM. In late June, BlackBerry CEO John Chen mentioned in an interview with Emily Chang of Bloomberg West that they plan on generating $100 million in revenue from BBM in fiscal year 2016.
CEO John Chen On BBM Moneitization – Interview with Emily Chang of Bloomberg West (June 2014)
“I really believe that we have a good handle on our monetization of BBM. First of all lets talk about BBM. It is the most secure monetization system. It has 160 million registered users, of which about 85+ million are monthly active users. So the monetization plan is in 3 buckets. One is the “Enterprise BBM function. We just released one called “BBM protect”, which are highly encrypted data messaging between 2 users. And there are a lot of new features and functionalities that will come out in that way. Voice and data alike.
And then there is the Mobile Payment. As you know we have a system called the BBM Money running in Indonesia and doing quite well there. We just entered in an agreement with EnStream, which is a Canadian mobile payment system with the three major banks and the three major telecoms, Visa and Mastercard in Canada and we are using our infrastructure that is another aspect of it.
The third bucket has to do with the consumer space. We have a lot of channels. Those are great for advertising. I won’t do the advertising myself or sell the advertising myself, but I have agencies or you would think about partners and distributors that would do so for us and we have a couple of early successes and then in the virtual goods world that includes stickers.
So there are 3 buckets, depending on what part of the world we are in and what segment of the customer base we are in, have the ability to monetize any or all together. We believe we can get to $100 million.
So there you have it. BlackBerry is a company on the move. It continues to innovate and expand its capabilities well beyond its hardware division. Can you imagine the impact this service will have when expended to other markets as well? This is just a prelude of other great things to come.