1. momantm's Avatar
    BlackBerry Testing Money Messenger Service
    BlackBerry Testing Money Messenger Service - Bloomberg

    BlackBerry (BBRY) is testing whether the money-transfer business will help Canada’s smartphone maker keep users hooked on its instant-messaging service.

    BlackBerry is beginning a pilot project with PT Bank Permata (BNLI), the Indonesian bank partly owned by Standard Chartered Plc (STAN), to allow users to transfer money to their contacts over the BlackBerry Messenger service, executives of both companies said in interviews.

    BlackBerry is looking to Indonesia, a country of 249 million people where it’s the leading smartphone brand, to develop a feature it hopes can protect the messenger service from losing customers to WhatsApp Inc. and other rival services. The plan could lead the Waterloo, Ontario-based company into an industry dominated by Western Union Co. (WU) and MoneyGram International Inc. (MGI)

    “It’s tough to get into the market as you’ve got a lot of competition and there are a lot of compliance and logistics issues,” said Larry Berlin, an analyst at First Analysis Corp. in Chicago. “Could it be the right play if people like the phones? Yeah, but it’s not going to be easy.”

    Bianto Surodjo, head of electronic channels at the Jakarta- based bank, said he believes BBM Money will have “a few hundred thousand” users at Permata within 12 months. The application is designed to be as simple as repaying a friend for lunch if she picks up the tab, he said.

    “If they want to do the payment, they just go into BBM Money and they transfer in a simple way as if they were chatting,” he said yesterday in a telephone interview from Jakarta. “We want to put financial activities into customers’ habits because BlackBerry Messenger is becoming like the culture here for people to communicate.”

    Losing Subscribers

    The number of BlackBerry subscribers worldwide dropped from 80 million to 79 million at the end of last quarter, after a decade of steady growth, as sales fell 47 percent from a year earlier. The company doesn’t provide figures for its Indonesian subscriber base.

    There are more than 60 million BBM customers worldwide, meaning about about three out of every four BlackBerry subscribers, use its free instant-messaging service, which allows users to see when the recipient has read a message.

    BlackBerry closed little changed at $13.25 yesterday in New York and has gained 12 percent this year. It shares are down 91 percent from the peak in 2008 as rivals such as Apple Inc. have captured market share from the company, a situation it is hoping to reverse with its BlackBerry 10 devices.

    BBM users who want to send or receive money have to download BlackBerry Money from BlackBerry’s app store. Sending money to another BBM user with a Permata account will be free, while transfer to a contact who banks elsewhere will incur a charge of 5,000 rupiah (52 cents). Permata has about 2 million customers and operates 289 branches across Indonesia.

    Older Devices

    The trial is limited to those with an Indonesian mobile- phone number who have a BlackBerry 5, 6 or 7 generation device. It isn’t available for the new BlackBerry 10 devices that are being introduced this month in Asia, the company said. No date has yet been announced for the flagship Z10 model in Indonesia.

    T.A. McCann, vice president of BlackBerry Messenger, said BBM Money is one of an array of features being added to the messaging service to boost its appeal.

    “BBM was traditionally thought of as just a chat client,” McCann said in a telephone interview . With the addition of video to the messaging service and now BBM Money, “we’re really trying to work hard to show clear examples of how we’re expanding BBM well beyond just chat,” he said.

    The trial is limited to one bank in Indonesia for now given the complexity and regulatory issues involved, McCann said.

    “Assuming the trial goes well, you could assume all kinds of different expansion whether it be additional banks, addition countries, additional devices and of course all kinds of functionality,” he said.

    Larger Makeover

    BBM Money is just one feature in a larger makeover of the company’s messaging service, and McCann said he doesn’t expect the financial service alone to draw new customers or win back those that had abandoned BlackBerry.

    “Is somebody going to buy a BlackBerry in the United States because it potentially has got BBM Money? No,” he said. “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.”

    Permata’s Surodjo said he has no concerns about the BlackBerry community shrinking in Indonesia as it’s woven into the lives of so many Indonesians.

    “We are still optimistic that usage will maintain or even increase in coming years,” he said.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Hugo Miller in Toronto at [email protected]

    To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at [email protected]
    Lumute, Dapper37 and zyben like this.
    02-26-13 02:22 AM
  2. Lumute's Avatar
    This is pretty cool, hopefully it is successful there and they prove the market so they decide to partner with a north American bank and do it here too, I hate PayPal and this would be a wonderful feature to maintain BBM as the lider Mobile Instant messenger...

    Posted via CB10
    02-26-13 02:29 AM
  3. Bold_until_Hybrid_Comes's Avatar
    I thought they were testing this months and months ago in Indonesia?
    02-26-13 02:37 AM
  4. Dapper37's Avatar
    BlackBerry is successfully planting the seeds of massive future growth with items such as BBM Money! Job well done!
    When successfull the pressure to go crossplatform will be huge! By that time BB10 sould be secure enough for that not to be an issue!
    02-26-13 02:42 AM
  5. Dapper37's Avatar
    I thought they were testing this months and months ago in Indonesia?
    Its started months ago, but this is Bloomberg and the American media. What you expect .)
    02-26-13 02:43 AM

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