Google to reveal new NFC mobile payments platform

25 May 2011

Internet giant Google is expected to reveal an entirely new mobile payments platform tomorrow that will turn Android phones into virtual wallets capable of making in-store purchases, redeeming coupons, gaining loyalty points and working with POS systems at the checkout.

The NFC technology will launch at a press event in New York tomorrow and will allow users of Nexus S smartphones on the Sprint network to buy goods and services via their mobile devices at various retailers, including Macy’s, American Eagle and Subway.

Google has equipped the retailers with special readers that allow Android users to wave their phones at the point-of-sale and complete their purchases in the same way a contactless credit card would work.

NFC is set to drive a revolution in mobile commerce. In the UK, Orange and Samsung have teamed up with Barclaycard to provide mobile phone payments.

Google earlier this year revealed it planned to launch integrated NFC (near field communications) technology within Android Gingerbread after revealing an alliance with MasterCard and Citigroup.

It is understood Google has teamed up with Samsung to deploy NFC technology in phones that use Android Gingerbread operating systems.

One in five phones to have NFC in the next three years

At least one in five smartphones globally will have NFC contactless functionality over the next three years, according to new market forecasts from Juniper Research.

Worldwide, Juniper forecasts almost 300m NFC-capable smartphones by 2014. Juniper’s analysis indicates this growth will be driven in the short term by mobile network operators launching services in 20 early adopting countries before the end of 2012.

Google’s NFC effort will no doubt compete with Twitter-co-founder Jack Dorsey’s Square Register, a new system that allows US businesses to accept payment from customers who just use their names. The Square Register app adds new features for its iPad point-of-sale solution, aiming to get rid of traditional cash registers. The app lets businesses streamline the checkouts, manage their stocks, check daily transactions, update pricing, generate digital receipts and communicate to customers’ mobile phones more easily.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years