Spanish readers are one step closer to leaving their Bronze Age wallet technology at home this week. On Wednesday, Telefónica and RIM announced they are testing an NFC-based payment and identity card system, called Telefónica Wallet for Blackberry, in and around the telecom's Madrid headquarters. The Spanish telecom has outfitted some 350 Telefónica employees with the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and Curve 9360 – you'll remember each obtained MasterCard PayPass certification last month – and gotten cooperation from local banks, retailers, gas stations, and other services.
The trials are part of a broader initiative by Telefónica to deploy NFC-capable devices. While NFC is widely used in Japan and South Korea, the same kind of adoption has yet to take place in Europe and North America, and while recent advancements such as Google Wallet have been seeing some progress, mobile service providers are rightfully concerned about their role in the new paradigm. Telefónica Wallet for BlackBerry could shift the balance in the telecom's favor by incorporating "SIM-based NFC capabilities," ensuring the company maintains some control over the new digital wallet functions. Anything goes as long as we can tap to pay for our bocadillos, right?