Bank of America adds BlackBerry phones to NFC trial

BoyGeniusReport has revealed details of a new invitation-only NFC payments trial to be conducted by Bank of America.

Select customers who take part in the trial will use BlackBerry mobile phones equipped with a microSD NFC device and an antenna that is fitted into a replacement battery cover.

To take part in the trial, customers need to have a BlackBerry Curve 8520 or 8530, BlackBerry Tour 9630, BlackBerry Bold 9000, 9650 or 9700 and an active Bank of America Visa debit card or MasterCard credit card.

For the trial, which will last for “a few months” and is expected to start “this Spring”, customers will be able to store up to four cards on their phones.

Bank of America announced plans to run an NFC trial in New York in August 2010, in partnership with Visa and using DeviceFidelity‘s microSD format NFC device. In November, it revealed plans to issue customers with contactless stickers this year.

Last month, Bank of America’s Michael Upton told American Banker that the bank plans to expand the New York trial to San Francisco and Atlanta this quarter and plans a commercial rollout by the end of 2011:

“We have liked what we learned,” Upton said of the trial in an interview on Monday. “It does … give us some of the market differentiation in terms of consumer adoption, behavior, preferences [and] perceptions by moving to some of the other markets.”

Bank of America also plans to make the system commercially available to customers by the end of the year, Upton said.

US Bank is also conducting an NFC payments testVisa is conducting an NFC ticketing trial in New York and payments processing giant First Data is due to launch a commercial NFC service this quarter. Wells Fargo is also testing NFC while PayPal is testing NFC stickers with Bling Nation in Palo Alto.

Discover Financial Services, part of the mobile operator owned Isis NFC mobile payments venture, is also rolling out contactless stickers to its customersGoogle is conducting NFC marketing trials in Portland, Oregon and in Austin, Texas amid speculation that the internet advertising search may be looking to deploy its own mobile payments service.

And “many, if not most,” BlackBerry devices will come with built-in NFC this yearResearch in Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie told delegates at the Mobile World Congress last week.

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