TORONTO - BlackBerry Ltd said on Thursday it has signed a agreement with EnStream LP, a mobile payments joint venture owned by Canada's three large wireless carriers, to provide a secure platform for transactions between banks and consumers.
Under the deal, EnStream would use BlackBerry infrastructure so financial institutions and mobile operators can securely store sensitive payment card details on any smartphone capable of using a near field communication (NFC) tag.
NFC tags allow mobile devices to communicate with each other or other machines like credit card payment systems, by merely tapping the two together. The institutions would include top Canadian lenders Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.
The three-year deal marks the renewal of a preliminary tie-up initially struck in late 2012 between BlackBerry and EnStream, which is jointly owned by Rogers Communications Inc , BCE Inc and Telus Corp.
The deal marks the latest move by the smartphone pioneer to expand its services business. Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry has been trying to reinvent itself under new chief executive officer John Chen as its phones have lost ground to Apple Inc's iPhone and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's Galaxy devices.
Chen wants to remain a competitor in the smartphone segment, but is focused on making BlackBerry a dominant force in machine-to-machine communications. The company's QNX software already is a mainstay in the automobile industry, powering electronic and other systems in a wide range of cars.
"Working with EnStream demonstrates BlackBerry's strategy to extend its core enterprise mobility technologies in new and emerging industries," the company said.
The company already works with hundreds of large enterprise clients including corporations and government agencies to manage and secure mobile devices on their internal networks. Chen intends to use that to make forays into areas like mobile payments, and create new revenue streams for the company.