ECOM Trying to Turn BlackBerry Into a Payment System

James let me know about a recent shareholder update that details a new payment system ECOM is working on. Personally I think it is doomed to failure due to fees and lack of simplicity but it has some pretty good ideas so I thought it was worth mentioning. This new system will let you transfer money from a BlackBerry or make payments. They currently have an app in testing that lets you pay from any BlackBerry to another BlackBerry or a ECOM MasterCard account. The app uses push technology (WebSignals I think) to let you know about updates.

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The app will be a free download on the App World and will integrate with BlackBerry Wallet. For some reason they will be sharing revenue with RIM. You can recharge this BlackBerry ECOM Mastercard through your bank or through their recharging network. It will automatically convert currencies and will allow you to pay your bill from your Berry. I know this has been around for awhile outside of the US but this is the first BlackBerry specific application.

Their revenue model is essentially charging:

  • 20% of fees goes to RIM
  • $0.25 per funds transfer
  • $0.10 POS
  • $1.50 ATM Cash withdrawal
  • $0.25 for bill pay

My personal gripe with this solution is why a user would pay a fee to make payments with their BlackBerry if they can already do so free just using their credit card. I really think that they will need to find a way to remove the fees from the user for this to take off.

The other issue is that this is really not an application. Just like the TicketMaster application it is more like a WebSignal that opens a browser with certain information. Not really sure why they did that…

What do you think? Full details after the jump:

The attached PDF file outlines our new mobile funds transfer/payments application designed for RIM devices (i.e. Blackberry) which we have been testing successfully over the past few weeks. Although several additional functionalities will be added over time (noted in the attached), the basic application as described in the actual BlackBerry screenshots is as follows:

  • Allows eCOM MasterCard Cardholder to register their card to their BlackBerry device via the ECOM website and after simple registration and acceptance of terms and conditions on the device itself, the ECOM icon shows on the menu screen of the Blackberry.
  • Safely and securely, via the RIM push technology and not text or email messaging, the ECOM application allows the transfer of funds from card to card using the card account number (not the actual card number), within minutes of completing the transaction, regardless of the global location of the sender or recipient. Initial login requires the CID (card identification number) of the cardholder for secure access.
  • The icon on the Blackberry changes colour from the default black to blue when funds have been received and sent. The icon on the BB of the recipient will change to the blue with a white arrow next to it pointing up denoting a receipt of funds. The icon of the senders BB will also turn blue and the arrow points down denoting the sending of funds (or having made a payment somewhere).
  • When the cursor of the BB is positioned over the ECOM icon on the BB, basic payment/receipt information is displayed. More detailed account information is displayed when the user clicks on the icon and enters their CID to access their account.
  • The recipient of any funds or payment does not require a BB. All account balances and transactions can be viewed online at the ECOM website after cardholder login.
  • The ECOM financial application is not telco centric and it therefore does not matter which service the BB device is attached to.


  • The icon turns blue with the corresponding arrow pointing down regardless of where the card of the cardholder was used. If a payment is made in a store, online or by phone, the ECOM application advises the cardholder within minutes that a transaction has taken place.
  • If the transaction shown on the BB was made or was authorized by the cardholder, no action would be taken.
  • If the transaction shown is unknown or not authorized by the cardholder, the cardholder would call the card issuer and report the event to prevent any further transactions to be conducted.
  • Since most cards have either a limited or zero liability feature, the issuer would save a significant amount of money in the form of fewer card fraud related losses.
  • Under normal circumstances, cardholders would not see a specific or unauthorized transaction that had been made on their card for either several days or even up to 30 days when a statement is received. This delay allows any fraud to continue against the card with ever increasing losses. CardTrax supplies transaction information within minutes of the transaction having been made and can limit losses to the one transaction when reported by the cardholder.

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