I’m excited to announce that we’re officially launching two new payment capabilities inside BBM. First is the official launch of an enhanced BBM Money service in Indonesia. Second is integration with TransferTo, an international airtime remittance provider, which allows you to gift mobile airtime minutes to your BBM Contacts globally.
I’ll start with the news about TransferTo, so I can spend more time on BBM Money.
International Airtime Gifting Through TransferTo
TransferTo is the leading provider of international airtime remittance. The service works with over 350 mobile operators in over 100 countries, and allows you to give prepaid mobile credit to your BBM contacts across borders or overseas. BBM will now integrate with the TransferTo airtime transfer service, meaning you can send airtime credit to BBM Contacts from within the BBM app.
Almost 80% of mobile users use prepaid minutes. Adding this feature to BBM will make it easier for people to make small value transfers among contacts, and share prepaid airtime so they can stay in touch with friends and family who live and work in other countries.
BBM Money is a mobile wallet service that allows people to send money to their BBM Contacts, top up mobile airtime accounts, and pay bills. Jointly developed with Monitise Indonesia and PermataBank, BBM Money leverages BlackBerry’s legacy in security and privacy, using passcodes and encryption to achieve bank-grade security.
We’ve been piloting the mobile wallet service for customers with BlackBerry devices in Indonesia since early last year. We initially limited it to certain customers and certain kinds of transactions because we wanted to test the waters and get feedback. What we learned is that there’s a lot of excitement and interest in the service. We gathered enough data during the pilot to understand that people are ready for mobile payments.
The new version of BBM Money will launch early in 2015 for Indonesia customers using BBM on Android, BlackBerry or iPhone. As is the case now it will be available to BBM users regardless of who they bank with, or if they have a bank account. And now, in addition to sending money to your BBM Contacts, paying bills and topping up airtime, you’ll be able to use BBM Money to buy goods at participating retailers, and even pay your electric bill.
In Indonesia, electricity is becoming a prepaid service (i.e., you buy a certain amount, and then when you run out, your electricity turns off). Without a service like BBM Money, you’d have to go out to a machine to make a payment and top up your account. BBM Money allows customers to do that from home or anywhere with mobile signal or Wi-Fi, meaning topping up electricity is as simple as topping up airtime minutes.
Indonesia presents a perfect marketplace for BBM Money. First, it’s no secret that we have a lot of customers there. It is the biggest BBM market globally. A massive number of Indonesians use BBM today, and the monthly active user count is growing by 150% annually. As I mentioned in my post about BBM for Windows Phone, handset manufacturers’ billboards around Jakarta advertise that that their phones are “BBM ready.” It’s a must-have in the Indonesian market.
Second, we also have a strong brand. Indonesians know BlackBerry and trust our products, our company, and our reputation for security and privacy. In the last year, BlackBerry won the Roy Morgan Customer Satisfaction Award for Mobile Phone Handset of the Year and the Excellent Service Experience Award in the category Handset of the Year for 2014 (for the second consecutive year). BBM won the Indonesia Cellular Award 2014 for Best Mobile Chat app.
Third, because BlackBerry and BBM are so popular with consumers, many Indonesian brands and retailers are now participating in BBM Channels as a way to connect with their customers. You can follow brands by subscribing to their channels, similar to what you can do with Twitter and Facebook. The brands include Coca-Cola, Qoo10 (a big marketplace, like eBay—in fact, partially owned by eBay), and the airline Garuda Indonesia.
Fourth, Indonesia is still largely a cash-based economy. According to a recent MasterCard report, only 31% of all consumer payments are “cashless” (so 69% of them are made with cash). Just 20% of the population has a bank account, and only 11% has a debit card. (Still fewer have credit cards, though that is quickly changing.) There’s a lot of room to grow and mature the payment infrastructure.
Finally, Indonesia is the world’s fourth largest country by population and has the second fastest rate of ecommerce growth in the world. (China is first.) Vela Asia, an Indonesian ecommerce provider, has rated it the “most ecommerce ready country” in Southeast Asia.
In the mobile industry, BlackBerry has a well-earned reputation for mobile security and privacy. BlackBerry devices and the BlackBerry operating system are still the choice of governments, highly regulated industries, and security-conscious organizations around the world. That’s why we’re such a natural fit for financial transactions of all kinds: peer-to-peer, airtime gifting, and retail. When all the pieces are there, there’s nothing that makes more sense than BBM mobile payments.