BlackBerry Wants You to Transfer Money via BBM

BlackBerry is dipping its feet into the water of electronic money transfers.

The Canadian company has started a pilot project with PT Bank Permata, an Indonesian bank partly owned by Standard Chartered. The project will BlackBerry users able to transfer money through BBM.

In Indonesia, a country of 250 million people, BlackBerry still reigns king, which means the smartphone maker will have a huge market to tap as it tests the viability of this potential new service. The timing is good, because Samsung this week unveiled Knox. Similar to BlackBerry Balance, Knox is aimed at the enterprise market that BlackBerry has long dominated.

BBM’s money transfer service is reportedly very simple—not any more difficult than sending a friend an instant message, according to BlackBerry. It’s an interesting concept, but will it fly?

“We think the jury is out,” says Angel Dobardziev, a customer insights analyst at Ovum. “There was little in the announcement on the agent network that will support the service other than the use of PT Bank Permata’s ATM network. As unbanked users typically cash in and cash out a lot when they first sign up to a mobile money service, a number of players have found it difficult to gain traction if an agent is not close by to help users send or receive transactions.”

However, Dobardziev did acknowledge that lackBerry’s customer franchise, Monitise’s strong mobile money platform, and PT Bank Permata’s banking expertise “looks like w inning partnership.” It’s just simply too soon to tell if those looks are deceiving.

Photo: Reuters/Mark Blinch