Google to turn smartphones into credit cards

Darren Allan

March 29, 2011

Since the inception of Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, the talk has been of mobile phones becoming credit cards, allowing a swipe of your handset to pay for goods.

NFC has been used for mobile payments in Japan for quite some time now, and plans have already been discussed by Everything Everywhere to roll out such a system in the UK in conjunction with Barclaycard. O2 is set to trial a mobile wallet app, as well.

And now Google seems ready to officially join the race to replace the credit card with the sim card, at least according to a report in the Wall Street Journal which cites sources familiar with the matter.

Apparently the search company intends to get together with Citigroup and MasterCard to allow Android users (of phones with NFC built-in, such as the Nexus S) to pay for purchases with their mobile.

Google doesn’t want a cut of the profits from the transaction, the WSJ notes. What it wants is the relevant data from the mobile shopping, to help better target ads and measure their success (and charge more for them as a result).

There’s also the potential to target discount offers to specific groups of shoppers who would be more likely to bite on them based on their shopping history.

This would represent a new level of tracking consumer behaviour for Google, and one that isn’t likely to please privacy campaigners who have plentiful worries about the big G’s data empire as it is.

One next-gen smartphone which won’t come with NFC is the iPhone 5. Unlike Google, Apple reckons it’s still too early in the evolution of NFC to be bringing the technology on board. Not the Apple and Google often agree on anything much…


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