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Suretap Wallet to Shut Down in August, Lays Partial Blame on Apple

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There were high ambitions for the suretap mobile wallet, which was the basis for NFC mobile payments for Rogers customers on specific Android and BlackBerry smartphones. The mobile wallet was a partnership between fellow carriers Bell and TELUS and was consolidated into Enstream, another mobile wallet spin off created by the Big 3.

However, a recent announcement on the suretap website has stated the platform will end, as of August 26, 2016.

Suretap dead

Suretap explains it is folding “due to ongoing changes in the market, and an increasing number of mobile payment and banking options available from CIBC, Desjardins, Scotiabank, as well as other wallets such as UGO.”

In an interview with itbusiness.ca, Almis Ledas, chief operating officer at Enstream, put partial blame on Apple for the failure of suretap to reach widespread adoption.

Apple’s iPhone 6 models or newer have NFC, but the chip is unavailable to third parties, which meant suretap lost out on nearly one-third of the Canadian smartphone market.

Ledas explained they asked Apple for access to the Secure Element—encrypted hardware in the iPhone isolated from third parties and the Internet to store Apple Pay credentials—but to nobody’s surprise, Apple denied them access:

“If we’d been able to deploy a wallet on Apple and non-Apple handsets, we would have more access for issuers and it would still be in existence today,” Ledas says. “We went to Apple and talked about getting access to the secure element. The answers was clear – no.”

Here is Apple’s explanation of the Secure Element:

The Secure Element is an industry-standard, certified chip designed to store your payment information safely. The Device Account Number in the Secure Element is unique to your device and to each credit or debit card added. It’s isolated from iOS and watchOS, never stored on Apple Pay servers, and never backed up to iCloud.

Apple Pay launched last fall for Canadian AMEX cardholders, and by June of this year, all Big 5 banks had supported the mobile wallet, leaving no room for suretap.

Ledas added “As the device universe split, the base we could serve became smaller and smaller.” He also noted the decision to shelve suretap was made before Canadian banks launched support for Apple Pay in May.

CIBC and Rogers Bank (their credit card issuer) were the only two organizations that supported suretap, in a mobile wallet system that was too complex and cumbersome to use and implement, as it required a specific NFC-based SIM card, a supported credit card, specific app downloads for setup and use, and was limited to a handful of of Android and BlackBerry smartphones.

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