RBC is moving to enhance its presence in the mobile payments space following the announcement of Google’s Android M late last month. The bank is producing an enhanced version of its mobile app for the new mobile operating system version, with more security and broader coverage for its mobile payment wallet.
The wallet will also take advantage of several new features in Android M. It is particular focused on the security enhancements to the IS, including a Confirm Credential API that enables the use of user credentials stored on the phone to identify and authenticate users. These include the device PIN and fingerprint reader data, so if a customer’s phone has a fingerprint reader, they can use this to complement their PIN when making a payment. The idea there is to make mobile payments more secure.
RBC originally launched a version of its mobile app with a built-in software wallet for mobile payments last year, but this has only worked so far for customers with phones on the Bell Mobility or Virgin mobile networks. This will change following the completion of a pilot for Host Card Emulation (HCE), which ran throughout the winter. This feature enables the wallet to be used more widely.
“When we launch HCE, this will allow Canadians to pay with most Android mobile phones with less reliance on the type of mobile phone, SIM card and carrier they use,” said Linda Mantia, executive VP of digital, payments and cards for the bank.
This will open up the Android M version of the app for more users, who currenctly simply don’t see the wallet feature when they use the RBC mobile app. It would enable them to make payments anywhere that Visa payWave and Interac Flash is accepted.
The bank is also planning to add support for other credit cards to the app, which would bring it more in line with payment solutions like Google’s new Android Pay (an evolution of Google Wallet), and Apple Pay.
The firm is also working on a version of its RBC wallet app that will be compatible with Android Wear, said Mantia. This would enable the bank to serve users of wearable Android devices. Wearables might become an important part of the payment ecosystem, especially given Apple’s use of its smart watch to deliver Apple Pay.
Mantia toed the party line on Apple Pay, which is that Apple has officially not announced plans for the Canadian market. However, reports suggest that it is indeed arriving north of the border, and that RBC along with the other big five banks have been working together on a way to deal with it. It isn’t yet clear what the bank’s view is on Android Pay either. That appears to be scheduled for a Canadian release. In the US, the service will be pre-installed on phones from select carriers, broadening its appeal.
In any case, RBC is currently tracking usage of its own mobile payment system. “At last count nearly six months ago our contactless-enabled POS terminal penetration was just over 30%,” Mantia said.