BUSINESS

Nadir Mohamed, Rogers CEO, Expects Profits From Mobile Payments, Wireless Tracking

09/17/2012 02:24 EDT | Updated 11/17/2012 05:12 EST
CP
MONTREAL - Rogers expects to launch a credit card that will be part of a "virtual wallet" as the telecom company moves to mobile payments on smartphones.

Chief executive Nadir Mohamed said Monday that Rogers is waiting for approval to offer a niche credit card that would serve its roughly 10 million customers.

"There's no question that when we launch our credit card, it will also be one of the first credit cards on your virtual wallet," Mohamed said after a speech to Montreal's Canadian Club.

While he wasn't specific on the timing of the launch, Mohamed predicted that in five years it will be common to use a smartphone as a digital wallet to store credit cards and identification.

Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) and CIBC already have announced they will launch Canada's first mobile payments system later this year, giving Canadians the ability to pay with their credit card using a smartphone.

Rogers applied to the federal Finance Department for a licence to offer financial products last September.

Mohamed suggested the average Canadian carries 22 plastic cards in his wallet.

"Today your wireless device is already your phone, your camera, your computer," he said.

"Tomorrow it will be your virtual wallet, a safe and secure platform that uses the SIM card inside your NFC-enabled (Near Field Communication) device to safely manage all of your information."

Newer BlackBerry smartphones have the ability to make mobile payments as well as some using Google's Android operating system. The new iPhone 5, however does not have Near Field Communication short-range wireless technology to link to credit card information.

Mohamed also said Rogers expects wirelessly connected hydro and parking meters, digital chalkboards, medical equipment and other devices will be a big source of revenue in the near future.

He said this market will grow to more than $400 million of annual revenue for the industry by 2015.

Rogers now has 800,000 devices connected to its network about $50 million in annual revenue from what's called the "machine-to-machine" market.

He says Rogers is working with Quebec insurance provider Industrial Alliance to track and identify good driver behaviour and with ski resort Mont-Tremblant to track students out on the slopes.

"If you assume that we have the pole position in terms of being the leader, we will have a significant part of this business," Mohamed said.

The Toronto-based company has 9.4 million subscribers for its wireless services, making it Canada's leading mobile phone company.

On the hockey front, Mohamed said he is a "fan" who hopes the NHL lockout ends soon.

Rogers and telecom competitor BCE (TSX:BCE) jointly own a 75 per cent stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs NHL team.

"At this stage, to me, it's between the league and the players association to hopefully get this sorted out as soon as possible."

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