Rogers joins growing number of companies launching smartphone payment apps

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TORONTO – Rogers has joined a growing number of Canadian companies who want to help shoppers pay with their smartphones at the cash register.

For now, the app can only be used in limited ways, but the telecommunications giant says the Suretap virtual wallet is a step towards offering a wider selection of mobile payment options.

Suretap currently only supports a specific prepaid Mastercard and giftcards from a small selection of retailers including Indigo, Harvey’s and Ardene.

A spokeswoman for Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) says other credit card options will be available soon, while the company eventually aims to support loyalty cards, coupons, and ID cards.

Not every smartphone on the market supports wireless tap technology, known in the industry as near-field communications.

Apple’s iPhone doesn’t have it built in, though it’s available on recent Samsung Galaxy and Note models, BlackBerry 10 devices and other phones sold at major wireless carriers.

Near-field payment options have taken years to materialize in Canada, and still aren’t widely used by consumers. One of the setbacks has been a reluctance from retailers and payment processors to adopt an unproven technology.

At least two of the country’s biggest banks have launched their own mobile payment options, though they’re under exclusive partnerships with telecom providers.

The RBC Wallet allows Bell wireless customers to make tap payments through its banking services, while CIBC has a mobile phone app that only works with Rogers and Telus (TSX:T) phones.

Also, PayPal Canada recently launched a mobile app which allows users pay for purchases at select restaurants with their Apple or Android devices.

Customers have warmed to apps that use more basic payment technology, like the Starbucks prepaid app, which lets customers pay for their coffee orders by scanning a barcode on their phone.

Tim Hortons (TSX:THI) has a similar app called TimmyMe, which began supporting tap technology earlier this year.

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