BlackBerry is exploring whether it might be able to expand use of its BBM service as a way to transfer money in emerging markets where the instant messaging service is popular.
“We’re meeting with partners and we are exploring the market,” BlackBerry enterprise unit president John Sims told Re/code in an interview on Tuesday. “Money movement is an important thing.”
While plenty of companies are looking at NFC and other technologies to manage payments in mature markets, Sims said he sees potential in developing markets where BBM is popular, such as Indonesia and parts of Latin America. The company has made steps in that direction before. Last year, it began testing a BBM Money service in Indonesia in conjunction with the local Bank Permata.
Sims noted that BBM has 85 million monthly active users and has seen daily registration rates increase 40 percent since it added support for Gingerbread, an older version of Android still widely used on phones in developing markets.
BBM has emerged as one of four key businesses for the more focused BlackBerry. The company has opened it up to iPhone and Android, with a Windows Phone app coming soon.
Earlier on Tuesday, CEO John Chen announced plans for two new phones coming later this year, the first to be made by Foxconn under a new partnership with the Taiwanese manufacturer. Chen also announced new pricing for the company’s flagship enterprise server, which will also get a significant upgrade this year.
Chen also took some shots at rivals, including Good Technology, and said BlackBerry is planning to give free access to BlackBerry’s latest server software to customers who are running older versions of BlackBerry’s software or who have defected to rivals such as Good.
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