Interview: Senior Product Manager of NFC for RIM, Geoffrey MacGillivray

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Yesterday, we had a very special guest on the N4BB Audio Show. Geoffrey MacGillivray, the Senior Product Manager of NFC for Research In Motion, was on the show to tell us about the future of Near Field Communications (NFC) on BlackBerry products.

BlackBerry has already accomplished some superb goals with NFC. BlackBerry has been the first to be certified for both Visa and MasterCard mobile payments. Just recently, BlackBerry has been the first mobile device to receive certification for replacement of security access badges.

Listen to the above interview with Geoff or read the transcription below. Let us know if you have any questions regarding NFC technology and tell us how you’d like to utilize it in your everyday usage.

- Interview transcription -

N4BB: “Welcome, everyone to another edition of the N4BB audio show. This is your host, Lucas Atkins. Niko and I have a very special guest today, Geoffrey MacGillivray. He is the Senior Product Manager for NFC at RIM. Geoffrey is here today to discuss Near Field Communications, otherwise known as NFC, and how RIM is utilizing the technology in the enterprise and consumer markets. How are you doing today sir?”

Geoffrey MacGillivray: “Good, I’m really happy to be here. I’m looking forward to this discussion”

N4BB: “Excellent. BB has been the first to be certified for VISA and Mastercard mobile payments. Now they are also the first for physical access badge replacement with HID Global. Can you tell us about that partnership?”

Geoffrey MacGillivray: “ Sure, and I want to comment generally on NFC as well. Here at RIM we really view NFC as more than a technology by itself. You can put the NFC radio and functionality into the device, but it’s so important to engage industry partners to really enable an ecosystem so we can create NFC experiences for our consumers. You can see that in our work with payments. We think it’s very important within the enterprise space to provide further value to our customers. We think the partnership with HID is very important because it brings more functionality to the device and has expanded its reach beyond what’s on the device to include interacting with the physical world and integrating your access badges to the device.

N4BB: “ How is RIM working to partner with the likes of McDonalds and Home Depot, who are already utilizing mobile payments through NFC?”

Geoffrey MacGillivray: “Unfortunately I can’t comment too much on specific companies until they are public. What I can say is we are involved in the NFC industry to understand the needs and the involvement of those services within different segments and making sure that our handset has the capabilities. Were working with key partners to see how those solutions are evolving so that when solutions are brought to the market, they can brought to the market quickly, effectively and can provide a good user experience.”

N4BB: “NFC is still in it’s infancy in terms of reception so far. What kind of features can we expect to see in the future with NFC?”

Geoffrey MacGillivray: “ I think in terms of NFC , this goes back to my earlier comments about ecosystem and why I think it’s a great question. Were going to improve upon the features on the device and enhance them and improve the functionality, but where I really see the growth in NFC is around services that can be relative to the device. This means engagement of more partners. So you’ve seen the initial announcement that we’ve done and we’ve talked about in terms of certification stuff and payment schemes and HID. Expect more services to come onto the device and start using the NFC, and expansion of the capabilities that are already there, and utilizing them in services. Just as an example we’ve talked a lot about secure mode of NFC in terms of payments and physical access but there’s also a lot of potential for mobile marketing around NFC. You can embed an NFC tag in a poster or even in a product, and consumers can tap on that poster or product to get more information on it or to get offers or other types of information like that. So I think that when NFC really matures you’re going to see a rich set of services that are built around technology.

N4BB: “We see that RIM has taken the lead in NFC technology. How does NFC on the BlackBerry differ from NFC on a rival platform, namely Android or Windows 7?”

Geoffrey MacGillivray: ‘I think in terms of the differentiation that we’re looking for is we’re going for very much standard based interoperability in our pod forms so we’ve been very careful to implement NFC in a standard way and use standard technology and provide the API’s necessary for our partners to use it. So in terms of our approach, we want to make sure that we provide a solid platform for our partners to work with that is interoperable with our devices and also other devices as well.”

N4BB: “ Will NFC mainly be BlackBerry to BlackBerry or will it also be open for cross platform compatibility?”

Geoffrey MacGillivray: “Great question again.This is not just Blackberry to Blackberry device transmission. We think it’s critical that NFC work seamlessly with not just Blackberry to Blackberry devices but other mobile phones and also readers and tablets that are present in the industry. Certainly the design steps that we’ve taken and the implementation that we’ve done has been totally geared towards making sure they are as interoperable as possible. That means sticking to the standards to make sure the user experience or the customer experience is consistent no matter which mode of operation whether it’s tapping on tags, paying at a point of sale, or gaining access to the building, that technology works.”

N4BB: “ Is RIM working on other specific NFC applications besides a mobile payment solution?”

Geoffrey MacGillivray: “ I think our view at RIM is that certainly payment and NFC payment gets a lot of attention. We view NFC as much more than payment and you can see that extension moving into physical access. There’s a number of areas in NFC that we think are going to provide a lot of value to our consumers. There are use cases in mobile marketing,transit and ticketing. Now I can’t comment specifically on the areas that we are working with but what I can say is that we are looking at the broad spectrum of NFC opportunities to try and bring partners in line and make sure our devices are compatible with those use cases. Because, like I said earlier, it’s not just about payment and it’s not just about physical access. We want NFC to be part of someones daily use of their smartphone and that expands across a wide range of applications.

N4BB: “Is RIM working directly with application developers to really push NFC?’

Geoffrey MacGillivray: “Yes our application developer support team is actively working within that community to educate developers on the capabilities of NFC and certainly within BB10 to indicate that we really have NFC functionality inside and our developer relations team has done a great job in the Jam Sessions and other presentation materials showing developers what they can do and how they can develop within is.

N4BB: “ The 4G playbook was supposed to be released with NFC but as we’ve seen with the test units we received it’s not available yet. Will that feature be opened up later on?”

Geoffrey MacGillivray: “Yes, it will be opened up later on.”

N4BB : “Now will this be though an OS update?”

Geoffrey MacGillivray: ‘ Yes that is what we would be looking to do”

N4BB: “Awesome. How is RIM working with the carriers to push NFC and make it a more viable product?”

Geoffrey MacGillivray: “ That’s another good question. The carriers are a very key partner for us and NFC is certainly a new technology and an interesting one when it comes to carrier space. The carriers have a lot of incentive to bring services to the phone that are centered around the UAC and the payment initiatives that are going on around the world. So we want to make sure that we support them in those efforts and bring NFC together as a good solution for our consumers. That’s some of the certification work that we’ve undertaken making sure that the phone itself is able to support those features.

N4BB: “ What is your personal opinion on the future of NFC?’

Geoffrey MacGillivray: “I think NFC is going to be a part of everyone’s daily lives in a number of areas. If we look together at that horizon five to ten years out NFC really extends someones interaction with their phone to the physical world. We see lots of opportunities to remove little pieces of friction in everybody’s life to make things a little bit easier. Examples are tapping to accept rates, tapping to pay, tapping to get access to your building. All the components integrate with someone’s daily life and make it that much better. So in my opinion NFC is going to grow and grow in terms of uses that are alowed on a single device and it will become a really integral part of daily life.

N4BB: “ Geoff, thank you very much for your time. We greatly appreciate having you on the show to talk about NFC and educate our readers on what it is and how it will be utilized in future BlackBerry products. Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers who might want to know more about NFC?”

Geoffrey MacGillivray: “I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to speak with me as well, and to your readers stay tuned to NFC. There will be a lot more developments over the next six to twelve months in terms of services that are going to be available, so stay tuned to the NFC scene.

N4BB: “Well thank you again for speaking with us and we hope to meet in the future”





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