Going cross platform could skyrocket the number of BBM Money users

By Chris Umiastowski on 23 May 2013 10:03 am EDT

While reading through BlackBerry-related news yesterday, I saw a post that our friend Ronen published on BerryReview pertaining to BBM Money.

Here’s whats new: In the first 90 days since launching BBM Money in Indonesia, the service has in excess of 60,000 users registered.  It’s not exactly a huge number, but apparently the target is to grow this user base to 200,000 by the end of the current year.  Sounds like they are well on their way to achieving this goal.

Keep in mind BBM Money can only be used by BlackBerry customers today.  And it can only be used to send money between BBM users, or to top up your mobile account.  It only exists in Indonesia today, where most BlackBerry hardware is running the legacy BBOS, and the devices don’t have features such as near field communications (NFC) to permit “tap to pay” type functionality.

It’s easy to sit back and think, “Oh, 60k users ... big whop.  Who cares.”  But with a bit of runway, it’s equally easy to see how merchants could adopt BBM Money and permit transactions to happen through the service.  It’s easy to see how future BB10 devices would make it easier to split tabs at a bar with NFC, or now the launch of BBM Channels could become a way for products to be sold and paid for via BBM Money.

And it’s also pretty obvious that Android is growing in strength in Indonesia, a country with 111% mobile  penetration and a population of 242 million.  As soon as BBM for Android is released, the cross-platform growth of the best mobile messaging platform in the world should take hold of the Indonesian marketplace even more firmly.  Given Thorsten Heins’ comments about looking to hit feature parity with the Android and iOS versions of BBM, it stands to reason that BBM Money will hit those platforms (and really, in Indonesia, Android matters far more than iOS). Of course there is some work to do in order to make this happen.  Right now BBM Money is a separate app distributed via App World.  In the future I think it makes sense for BlackBerry to integrate the money feature into BBM directly. 

So who’s making money from this?  PayPal makes tons of cash by handling electronic payments for people, and it stands to reason that BBM Money should be profitable for BlackBerry.  But the folks at BlackBerry did not build this service on their own.  It was done in conjunction with PermataBank (an Indonesian bank) and Monitise, a publicly traded UK company (MONI: LSE). 

My closing thoughts:  There needs to be consolidation around mobile IM, and the fact that BBM is going cross platform gives BlackBerry a chance to take that leadership position.  It also stands to reason that mobile payments should be integrated with mobile instant messaging, and BBM Money seems to be the first service to achieve this.  Does that mean it will grow to serve millions of users globally and compete with PayPal?  I don’t know.  I haven’t spent a ton of time researching this topic yet, but I think it’s one that deserves some attention. 

What do you guys think?  Anyone from Indonesia care to jump in on the comments and tell us what your experience using BBM Money is like?  What opportunities do you see for the service to expand and improve?

Topics: BBM Editorial

Reader comments

Going cross platform could skyrocket the number of BBM Money users


Sounds awesome! Many of my friends who are former BBM users say they are looking forward to the app coming to is and Android. I think BBM would definitely be another reason for them to look forward to it.

Posted via CB10

I actually commented on the forums yesterday about these exact thoughts!
http://forums.crackberry.com/blackberry-10-apps-f274/bbm-go-cross-platfo... :D
I do think BBM going cross platform will be a great move for BlackBerry to conquer MASS usage and this way be able to CASH IN profits from BBM Money in a way it could become better than Google Wallet and even PayPal just by adding a Card Reader adapter and using NFC/Bluetooth features available on most smartphones today. Also if Channels picks up well, adding BBM connected apps (again, all this cross platform), just imagine the possibilities!! Go BlackBerry!

I think they should go across platforms but if they make it paid for ios and android users " like whatsapp is 99c ", but if its free then what the point of the blackberry phone if you then have bbm in a android device or iphone?

I also have to friends who just this year (pre BB10 Release) went to iPhones from BB. As soon as they found that BBM was coming to all platforms they contacted me and told me they were excited and will be making the switch to BBM asap!

Hey Chris,

What do you think their profit potential is from rolling out such a thing? I was thinking BlackBerry has the contacts and connections to make something like BBM Money happen in Canada...

Yeah, I agree with you.  They've already done tap to pay in partnership with the banks.  So they just need one of these banks to establish the e-account framework for a BBM Money app.  My guess is they don't have the bandwidth to do it on their own, hence in Indonesia they have Monitize doing all the real work (my guess ... I don't really know who did what work).  Maybe same company will create the app here?

I don't really know about how money transactions are being handled, but I think it's hard to push banks to add third party mobile transactions. most banks here that i know already have their own mobile banking app. Even paypal up until now still don't have cooperation with local banks. so i can't pay/withdraw directly to my bank account using paypal. i can only pay and withdraw to my credit card when using paypal lol.

so I say it's a win when blackberry can get a bank (Permata Bank) to cooperate on rolling BBM money here. Even paypal can't do that yet lol.

"Even paypal up until now still don't have cooperation with local banks. so i can't pay/withdraw directly to my bank account using paypal."

Really? In the US it's available, though I suppose that might stem from the availability of debit cards doubling as "credit" cards as well down here. (Whenever I go up to Toronto, my friends comment about how cool it is that my bank card can do both.) Any transaction with PayPal is directly associated with my bank account, so perhaps it's just a matter of banks changing their practices (if possible? Not sure if the Canadian government has a law in place to bar this practice.)

Posted via CB10 & loving it!

Actually that single card debit/credit option is also available in Canada. TD Canada Trust is in the process of making the switch with their customers. The card acts as a debit card and yet is recognized as a credit card online with the actual payment coming directly from the associated bank account.

Ah okay, good to know. It's so widespread down here that most people don't even realize that it's such a convenience. I hope these features come to more customers worldwide.

Posted via CB10 & loving it!

Yes, it's true here in indonesia. Until now my paypal account still can't make payments / withdrawals from & to my bank account. I can only use my credit card for paypal transactions. I asked my bank's customer service (mandiri bank) she doesn't even know what paypal is lol.

Some people said BCA debit card can be used to pay/withdraw with PayPal but I haven't tried it because I don't have account there :p

Posted via CB10

Hi Chris, I was just reading this article that says "Rogers reported that it was issued a Letters Patent by the Canadian Minister of Finance allowing it to incorporate as a bank." and "Upon meeting the requirements for the Order to Commence, Rogers will have the approval to begin offering credit card services." I am planning on doing somemore hwk on this as it is the first I heard of it. I thought you might like to look into this as well.

If you recall the deal with blackberry, rogers and CIBC, this is what rogers has been pushing for.

Canadian Tire and Rogers are now looking for m2m for vertical markets of revenue.

Posted via CB10

Will be cool. If whatsapp decides not to support BlackBerry anymore or threat not to support BlackBerry that will be their problems.

My question should it be free on other platform?

Posted via CB10

I think it should be free. When you are a free app you see something like 40x more downloads. This is based on annecdotal evidence from a couple of vendors I spoke to, not a scientific measurement with any statistical validity. But even if the "real" number isn't 40x, it's still way bigger than 1x

I can't see whatsapp dropping BB10 because of BBM coming to other platforms. The IM that has great platform coverage will be the consumers preferred choice. To keep competitive advantage whatsapp will have to stay on BB10 and hope the can do better than BBM.

I have to say though, the BBM money integration, with NFC and tap to pay, transferring money (similar to barclays pingit in UK), along with channels where products and services could potentially be brought and sold.... nothing will be able to compete with BBM in the way of a feature rich mobile communication and commerce platform

Posted via CB10

BlackBerry would not be bringing BBM to other platforms if they did not think they can generate money from it through BBM Money, BBM Channels or whatever else they have up their sleeves.

Now I can see where they are going to with making BBM cross platform. Because one thing that is a very common here is, people are using BBM to sell things. From clothings, hobbies, you name it. They are using BBM groups for that. Now BBM Channnels makes sense too, if it's intended to give a formal place for those sellers instead of using groups.

It's a very common too here for people to carry two or three blackberry just for their business, selling things on BBM groups (they carry multiple blackberry because group members is limited to a certain number or something. or because too many groups tend to freeze/crash it lol).

So I can say this will be a huge win for blackberry in the future. Of course, when more banks are joining in. And when other people in other country (starts) using BBM to sell things too.

I could see BBM money complimenting online commerce. For example, a online vendor on eBay or even Amazon could have a pay by BBM money option. You click on the icon which brings up the vendor's bar code. You scan the bar code and money is sent to the vendor.

As a first time Blackberry user(Z10) I can't say I know a single person on BBM. So I don't use it at all. Can't say I've met anyone else with a BB10 phone since I converted. I know tons of people on iOS and Android platforms. This will give me a chance to try BBM for the first time. Maybe convert a few in the process.

BBM money is disruptive to the tax system, at least in North America. No gov't wants an untaxed underground economy so it seems likely it will be outlawed.

Not sure what you are talking about. Transactions are monitored through their electronic footprint.

money transactions can be secure BBM to BBM between individuals suggesting that many services could go untaxed. No doubt any retail purchase goes through a till with sales tax etc.

The taxes are down to the vendor in the case of sales. The tax reported has nothing to do with the physical means of payment (doesn't mean governments can't levy tax but it's not a necessary part of the transaction - the reporting is separate).

In the case of "in country" person to person (or to company for that matter) money transfers, I don't know any nation that charges tax. Maybe a bank fee but not tax.

You pay taxes for each transaction in BBM Money. And that is for sure. BBM Money is legal and so that's why Permata Bank wants to be partnered by BlackBerry. I have BBM Money and I still use it once to buy my carrier subscription. I hope BBM Money app can be available in BB10 soonest.

Posted via CB10

Indonesian here, it was kind of a cool idea, creating some buzz among BB users for the first few weeks then it winds down and nobody talks about it anymore. The reason? We just introduced another way to transfer money that is more widely accepted, that is through text messages. That 60k users would probably be a lot less when BBM goes cross platform in this country, where majority of users buy BlackBerry just for its BBM feature.

Posted via CB10

Why when bbm goes cross platform will there be many less than 60k bbm money users? More people using bbm will somehow decrease the use of bbm money. Either I missed something or you did

Posted via CB10

Thanks for your comment from Indonesia! Very interesting.

I think that BBM money is a great idea, but it needs good marketing, good banking relations, and wide acceptance to really take off.

Chris, looking back into the BBM Money feature, i see you mentioned they partnered up with Permata Bank, does that mean that every single BBM Money USER needs to have an account with THAT bank? I hope NOT, it would be great if this works similar to PayPal where you can LINK this to ANY Bank... Is there any info on this? Limiting users to specific banks would only LIMIT the growth potential for this great product.

Um..actually Chris, we have to. At least for now. I was excited when bbm money launched. Then when I did some googling, I found out I have to make permata bank account to be able to use bbm money, which I don't have. So until now I haven't tried it, and that's why I said it will be good for BlackBerry in the future, when more banks joins in.

Posted via CB10

As a small business owner, I would like to see BBM money available in Canada. I would like to reduce cheque handling and some kind of alternative to Visa.

honestly i never try BBM money, but if another bank like BCA or Mandiri Bank or BNI (biggest three) use kind of service, i am pretty sure about 100K users within first week. BBM is under threat by other platform like LINE and WeChat - they promote the product everyday though commercial break on TV, yes everyday. quite nice motto: Free download, free chat, free call and door prize. I don't know who is behind this massive commercial?? Samsung maybe?

With respect to effective commercials ... and I am not trolling here... I love my Z10 and PlayBook... BlackBerry's commercials are terrible! BlackBerry's commercials that I've seen use a shotgun approach and do little to actually inform the viewer of the product features, advantages and benefits. Just yesterday I saw a S4 commercial demonstrating their version of time shift on their camera that was very clear in its usefulness.

Posted via CB10

I couldn't agree more. Last night I was watching a big network tv show and on comes the boom da boom da boom BB keep moving commercial and not one feature of the BB10 system was shown, just a bunch of actors doing cool stuff, and at the end they zoomed in on the Z10 screen and darned if you couldn't actually see what was on the screen or have any idea what they were trying to show... this was on my 65" big screen so go figure. BB Marketing needs to take a lesson from the Apple & Samsung ads which always focus on a key feature of the phone.

Hearing about BBM going cross platform, my first thoughts were about BBM Money and the chance of having a sort of paypal integrated into BBM.

Posted via CB10

If this service get excepting worldwide, Western Union money gram possible will be bankrupt within the next five years. Plus many small businesses that do the money transfer from country to country will be out of business too.

BlackBerry seems to be well on its way to becoming the Wal-Mart of mobile communications.

I approve.


Posted from my brain to your screen via CBQ10

For me, this BBM going cross-platform is great. My wife uses Android and my brother uses an iPhone. Right now we rely on text messaging or Gtalk (Hangouts), but I'd much prefer to use BBM.

The time is ripe for BB to set up a separate financial division, not unlike the business models of GE or GM finance, offering credits to BBM money users and set itself up as new player in the global credit card industry. BBM money should be able to charge significantly lower vendors' fees undercutting the major credit card companies and even able to function like a debit card. The profit potential from such a financial service will dwarf the the profit of BB's hardware division to the point that BB phones may be given to new BBM money customers free of charge.

The time is also ripe for BB to set up a separate consumer mobile and internet software division to develop and market facebook-like social media in BBM, reddit-like forums in BBM, new search engines for BBM channels and their contents, and build a bridge between BBM and the internet where users of BBM can alter between internet and BBM in real time. BB can utilize its international app developing platform to develop and sell cross platform apps with BB security features and compete against yahoo, google and facebook.

BB has found a new blue sky and there will be no limit to what it can do - BB has discovered a new world that will be hard or nearly impossible for the competitors to follow.

Would love to try the BBM money as use pay pal a lot but as I'm a loyal BlackBerry user I would be one of the first. Great idea about the cross platform loads of my clients are talking about moving back to Blackberry. Ive showed lots of clients the Z10 and most think it's feels better than the iPhone ( not that hard really) .

Posted via CB10

I'm Indonesian, my thought the upper level customer will go to iphone and samsung galaxy, lower level customer will go for cheap android, so BlackBerry device will see a huge droping in market share in Indonesia. For money transfer majority in Indonesian use internet banking from BCA and Bank Mandiri, sorry for my poor english.

Posted via CB10

How about enabling the NFC payment for the proposed BBM Money App?

If only BlackBerry is willing to customize localized NFC payment (eg: baked-into-BB10-OS's Oyster payment system with compatible built-in Oyster antenna for wireless payment in London, UK?)
[And localized antenna/App support for other similar payment systems adopted for other countries such as Octopus in Hong Kong]

This would go a Looooonnnngggg way in propelling BlackBerry back into the top of the "cool device" market leader league, would actually become a reason for those Andr*id and iPh*ne users switching to BlackBerry.

Just a thought ;)

This is an awesome and welcome idea, by cutting across all platform and with BBM money it will be fantastic.

Posted via CB10

I honestly hope it takes off like a rabid zombie infection and beats out the need for PayPal, Google wallet, amazon and all of those other things. This is gonna be awesome once it does expand and get integrated!