Mobile

BlackBerry Wants to Send Money Over Messenger

Published on February 26, 2013
by John Paczkowski

BBM_MoneyBlackBerry’s Messenger (BBM) service was conceived as a simple but secure real-time instant messaging client. And it became enormously popular on that basic conceit. But with upstart rivals like WhatsApp crowding the messaging space, and smartphone manufacturers like Apple offering their own integrated messaging solutions, like iMessage, BlackBerry is working to add new features to messenger to stem defections to other platforms. The latest: A money transfer service.

Working with Indonesian bank PermataBank, BlackBerry today began piloting BBM Money, a service that allows BlackBerry users to transfer money to contacts over BBM. The company says sending cash from one user to another is as simple as chatting — with bank-grade security measures protecting the transactions.

The pilot program is currently limited to BlackBerry 5, 6, and 7 devices, but BB10 devices will surely follow. And if all goes well in Indonesia — PermataBank expects a few hundred thousand users to try BBM Money in its first year — BlackBerry will extend it to other emerging markets, as well.

It’s worth noting that BlackBerry isn’t pitching BBM Money as a killer app, but as a simple value-added proposition — something that might give the company’s handsets an edge with consumers torn between a Z10 and an iPhone or Android device.

“Is somebody going to buy a BlackBerry in the United States because it potentially has got BBM Money,” T.A. McCann, vice president of BlackBerry Messenger, told Bloomberg. “No. Would they buy it in Indonesia because of BBM Money? Maybe, but in that case we have lots of reasons why they want to have a BlackBerry, and BBM is one of them.”

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