Bank of America is starting a trial of its new Mobile Wallet payment service

By March 01, 2011
Bank of america trial NFC

According to a BGR Capital & Trade source, Bank of America is starting a trial of its new Mobile Wallet payment service program, based on near field communication technology. Bank of America has been announcing its Mobile Wallet for a few months. They are now launching a trial version available to a small amount of Bank of America customers.

A study from Synovate showed that the average Smartphone user would rather forget their wallet at home than their Smartphone. If you belong to this category, you’ll be happy to learn about Bank of America’s Mobile Wallet - a mobile payment system that allows you to make purchases with your Smartphone, if made at partnered local businesses, based on NFC technology. In other words, your phone will become your wallet.
While the Mobile Wallet hasn’t been released to the general public, Bank of America selected a subset of customers who own both a BlackBerry and a Mastercard, to try the trial version of its e-wallet. Those happy few received an announcement email and are soon going to be sent a new battery door for their phone and a microSD card to make their device NFC-compatible.

The Digital Wallet is very simple to use. The idea behind a mobile wallet is that a customer will pay for their purchase at the point of sale with the cellular phone, rather than a credit card. The “tap and pay” experience can take place at any location where Mastercard’s PayPass is accepted. However, we don’t know yet what authentication will be used to secure the transactions. But the tech is convenient - users will only have to tap their Smartphone on the NFC enabled box to make their payment.

The trial is expected to begin in the Spring and is probably the first step for Bank of America towards full deployment to all customers. To accelerate widespread NFC payments, Bank of America will ask the testers to share their own experiences and give feedback.

Bank of America’s move is indicative of the company’s strategy to be one of the first bank to implement mobile payment solutions. However, the bank remains very careful as to how the system will work. For instance, it is unclear what type of authentication system they will choose. Bank of America has chosen to use the MasterCard’s PayPass program, meaning the American bank does not want to implement its own payment architecture. Besides, Bank of America minimizes risk by implementing a trial reserved for chosen people. The introductory letter assures customers of the security and convenience aspects of the payment solution. Worth noting is the fact that the company has not shared any information about security, such as PIN usage or about mobile payment credit limits.

This is also an indicator for MasterCard, who decided to use the microSD card as a secure element for the mobile payment. The adoption of this external component into a smartphone instead of a SIM Card or a embedded chip could be a handicap for the two financial network giants. But the Bank of America initiative could help Mastercard in its own strategy. This “win-win” partnership is probably the first of many announcements of its kind that will come in the few months.

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