RIM's mobile payment security tech earns Visa approval

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Visa has approved Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) Secure Element Manager technology for Near Field Communications-enabled mobile payments.

By adopting the Secure Element Manager backend solution, carriers can securely manage credentials on SIM cards installed in all types of mobile devices supporting NFC, RIM said. "The approval from Visa is an important step in that it will enable carriers to support Visa issuing banks and financial institutions," said Frank Maduri, RIM's senior director of NFC Services and TSM Product Management.

Visa's endorsement helps make a RIM a player in the hotly contested mobile payments field as the company ramps up for the Jan. 30 launch of its overhauled BlackBerry 10 operating system. BlackBerry 10, which runs on the same QNX-based software powering RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, features the new BlackBerry Flow UI, which includes BlackBerry Hub, as well as BlackBerry Balance, which separates personal applications and information from encrypted work profiles, enabling organizations to protect their data while giving users the flexibility to optimize their devices for personal use.

Although Canadian operator EnStream recently deployed mobile payment services leveraging RIM's SEM solution, it remains to be seen whether any U.S. carriers will follow suit. Isis, the NFC-based mobile commerce network spearheaded by Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA, also incorporates secure element SIM cards sold directly by the carriers. Isis kicked off consumer trials in the Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City markets last fall.

RIM also faces competition from the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Wallet contactless payment application, which enables consumers to make purchases by tapping their device at more than 200,000 MasterCard PayPass-enabled merchant terminals across the U.S.

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), U.S. Cellular and MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) sell Android smartphones supporting Google Wallet, but Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile USA do not offer Wallet-capable devices.

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