TORONTO — EnStream’s vision of a mobile wallet looks a lot like an old school wallet, stuffed to bursting with payment cards, library cards and other documents. It's an ambitious strategy, but one that relies on the cooperation of a wide range of stakeholders.

“Eventually, the wallet will be a governing application, where you can use mobile as a library card, a transit card, a healthcare card, a payment card, and other uses,” said Almis Ledas, chief operating officer of EnStream, a joint venture between Canada’s largest telecommunications companies—including Rogers Communications, Bell and Telus.

EnStream connects card and credential issuers with wireless carriers, enabling consumers to use virtual cards to interact with merchant readers for payment or identification validation. EnStream facilitates Near Field Communication transactions through a secure element application that allows information exchange between different companies and operating systems.

In the payments business, EnStream attempts establish standards, which would make mobile payments more open—different wallets could be loaded into each other.

“There are dozens of banks, hundreds of financial institutions, a number of transit authorities and government offices. If each had to connect with each other on their own, it would create a complex web,” Ledas said during a mobile payments conference in Toronto operated by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment.

EnStream’s model is also designed to encourage bank involvement and cooperation. The venture leases space on the SIM card to issuers, which are able to maintain control of their customers' data, Ledas said. “We don’t want to get in the way of the issuer,” Ledas said.

In addition to interoperability, the capacity of SIM cards is also improving, allowing more information to be loaded onto the wallet, Ledas said. EnStream also signed a deal with SecureKey Technologies to provide authentication for smartphones across its partner carriers, which should provide further interoperability, Ledas said.

“Once you remove cash, there’s nothing you can do on a bank machine that you can’t do on a phone,” Ledas said. “There is a big incentive for banks to move into this space.”

Banks have been gradually warming to EnStream’s model, Ledas said. EnStream recently signed a deal with Desjardins Group to enable Desjardins payment cards to be used on NFC enabled devices across Rogers, Bell Telus, MTS and SaskTel networks.  Bell in May signed a deal with RBC to provide mobile payments by the end of the year. And EnStream also contributes to suretap, Rogers’ mobile wallet, which has been adopted by CIBC.

“EnStream is fundamental in providing the scale for the mobile wallet,” said David Robinson, vice president of emerging business for Rogers.

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the payments industry

14-Day Free Trial

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the industry