One more person-to-person payment application for mobile devices might seem merely like incremental progress toward mobile payments, but it demonstrates the increasing pressure to make phones into financial tools, analysts said Wednesday.
PayPal Inc. announced that its mobile Send Money application is now available for BlackBerry handsets from the Canadian smart phone maker Research in Motion Ltd.
Fred Brothers, the managing partner of the technology consulting firm eCom Advisors in Dublin, Ohio, called the development significant, though not revolutionary, because PayPal already offers similar applications for Apple Inc.'s iPhone and handsets that use the Android operating system from Google Inc.
"PayPal is the leading online P-to-P money transfer capability on the planet, with more registered users domestically and globally than everyone else combined," Brothers said. "Blackberry is the dominant smart phone among businesspeople."
The iPhone is most popular with young adults, he said, and the Blackberry is used more by Generation X and baby boomers. "These are the consumers [that] payment processors and financial institutions care most about, because they have a lot more money than Gen Y," he said.
PayPal, the payment processing unit of the online auctioneer eBay Inc. in San Jose, said its BlackBerry application integrates with users' contact lists, to send money to almost anyone with a phone number or e-mail address anywhere in the world.
The Send Money application is available through the BlackBerry App World online marketplace in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland, Portugal and Australia, PayPal said.
Richard K. Crone, the founder of Crone Consulting LLC in San Carlos, Calif., said that P-to-P money movement is not the most attractive market for mobile transfers.
"It's being pursued basically because it's easy to deploy, not necessarily because it's a massive market," Crone said. "The real opportunity for mobile payments is the $6.2 trillion spent at the physical point of sale."
Bank of Montreal, MasterCard Inc. and Research in Motion started a mobile pilot test this month of consumer acceptance of contactless payments at the point of sale.
In the four-month test, Canadians are to make payments with BlackBerrys that have contactless stickers and use near-field-communication radio signals to send payment information to point of sale terminals. The MasterCard network, in turn, is to send the user's phone an electronic receipt containing transaction details.
NFC has been the dominant system for contactless POS transactions, but Crone said it is not the only one. "There are lots of different ways to solve the physical point of sale-mobile device dilemma," he said, "lots of companies pursuing it."