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RIM’s NFC plans hit resistance from mobile network operators

Research in Motion is meeting with resistance from mobile network operators over its plans to offer NFC services via near field communication chips embedded in forthcoming BlackBerry handsets, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The dispute centers on where key data related to mobile payments will reside on the next generation of smartphones,” the newspaper explains:

RIM wants the credentials built into a secure area of the BlackBerry itself, which would bind users to its devices and potentially cut carriers out of the loop, according to officials representing some of the carriers. RIM is already reaching out to banks on its own, these people say.

North American carriers — which typically subsidize the cost of the phones they sell to customers and control distribution — are telling RIM to stop.

“The carriers have been saying in a gentle way to RIM, ‘Guys, you won’t be doing this,'” said Robin Dua, chief executive of EnStream LP, a firm set up by Canada’s three biggest wireless companies to implement their mobile-payments strategy. “I think it’s going to be a little bit of a fight, frankly.”

Executives at North American carriers downplay any dispute, but acknowledge competing visions between phone makers and carriers. “We expect some closed operating-system vendors will probably try to build [credentials directly] into the handset. RIM and [Apple Inc.] fall into that category,” said Almis Ledas, a vice president, mobility corporate development at Bell Canada, the main operating unit of BCE Inc.

“The dispute is a departure for RIM, which has historically crafted its handsets to carrier specifications,” the Wall Street Journal continues. “The company held off preloading its App World store on many BlackBerrys until last year because some carriers wanted to highlight their own app stores instead.”

Earlier this month, RIM’s UK managing director confirmed that “virtually all BlackBerry phones are set to include NFC. In January, a leaked roadmap of the CDMA phones RIM plans to launch in 2011/12 included details of four BlackBerry handsets equipped with NFC — the Monaco Touch, the Montana, the Sedona and the Malibu.

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