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Rogers launches Suretap mobile payment system

The telecom giant's suretap provides a quick and secure way to make payments using a Rogers smartphone

David Robinson, the vice-president of emerging business for Rogers Communications, believes that the Costanza wallet’s days are numbered.

Robinson is one of the champions of the company’s new “suretap” mobile wallet, which will enable consumers to complete transactions using Android and BlackBerry smartphones with near field communications (NFC) capabilities.

Rogers said Thursday that the service will be available to consumers in the “coming weeks.”

The telecom giant has also struck a multi-year agreement with MasterCard that enables suretap users to load up pre-paid MasterCards, as well as gift cards from select national retailers.

Robinson believes the industry is seven years into a 10-year journey that will ultimately end with a “ubiquitous, consumer-accepted, secure method for mobile commerce on virtually every smartphone.”

Robinson said there are an estimated 80 million plastic credit cards and 30 million debit cards in Canada, but an estimated 600 million cards in people’s wallets when factoring in gift cards, loyalty cards, etc. He predicted that number could ultimately swell to 1 billion cards in the mobile wallet era, when consumers are no long encumbered by a physical wallet.

“Our vision is everything you have in your leather wallet today, plus more – with more security and more convenience,” said Robinson. “That’s what we’re starting to get to now.

“We’re talking transformational commerce, not ‘my phone emulates a payment card,’” said Robinson. “I would never with a straight face tell you that mobile will replace a real wallet, but it will displace the use of cards over time and massively expand the number of cards consumers are willing to carry.”

A recent consumer survey conducted by Harris Decima for Rogers found that more than half (51%) of NFC-enabled smartphone users have made a mobile payment in the past year, while almost half (46%) of Canadian smartphone owners said they would be more likely to use mobile payment systems if they were tied to loyalty programs.

The technology means that participating merchants don’t have to engage in additional staff training or terminal upgrades to accommodate mobile payments. “This is not nothing we are new to or casually entering,” said Robinson. “We were a top five contributor to the software that is inside every phone that can do proximity payments.”

Rogers had previously partnered with CIBC on its CIBC Mobile Payment App, which enables consumers to use their smartphone to complete transactions up to $50 (the limit was recently raised to $100).

According to Robinson, an estimated 11% of all face-to-face transactions in Canada are now initiated with a tap, with 19 of Canada’s top 25 brick-and-mortar merchants currently accepting contactless payments. There are an estimated 250,000 tap-to-purchase terminals in approximately 40,000 unique locations across the country.

Canada was ranked second on MasterCard’s Mobile Payments Readiness Index last year, with the company citing high consumer readiness, a “very advanced infrastructure” at point-of-sale and a proactive government as key contributors to the overall score.

This article originally appeared in Marketing magazine.

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