Friday, April 15, 2011

Google, MasterCard and Citibank to Build Google-Branded NFC Mobile Payments System?


Google and MasterCard Teaming Up?
Google is preparing to launch a mobile payments system in partnership with MasterCard and Citigoup, Inc., according to a report in The Wall St. Journal. The service is the long-rumored mobile venture utilizing NFC (near field communication) technology, which allows customers to wave or tap their phones at the point-of-sale to pay for purchases. Google isn't taking a cut of the transaction fees, says the report, but would use the system to provide retailers with more data about their customers so they could better target their ads.
"That's good, considering that the recent rumors about MasterCard's involvement with Google and Citibank to build a Google-branded mobile payments system would have the form factor being the mobile phone itself, not the SIM card." With Google's Android mobile operating system, support for NFC has been built into the software. That means phone manufacturers can put NFC chips in the phone then install Android in order to ship NFC-capable devices. Google's flagship phone, the Nexus S, is a recent example of a popular NFC smartphone. Anderson calls Google's decision to add the NFC support into Android "a very big deal."  "This was an important decision," he said. "It gave a path for handset manufacturers to support NFC with very little work." If Google led the way in mobile payments, it would be about scale, said Anderson. By licensing the OS to manufacturers, it's a broader play. There's less control from top-to-bottom.  This would be different from the route Apple is expected to take, which would involve end-to-end control of the entire experience. That's not necessarily a poor decision, however, Anderson said. Apple tends to delight its customer base, said Anderson. It could do an amazing job.

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Google Distributing NFC Stickers to Businesses in Austin, Texas


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Google has begun distributing stickers with near field communication (NFC) technology to businesses throughout Austin, Texas as part of its Google Places roll out. The stickers allow users to tap their NFC-equipped phone on the sticker and access content and information relevant to the local business. The stickers are manufactured by Smartag and measure 80mm x 50mm (3.15 in x 1.97 in) in size. Users who have the Google Places app on their smartphones will be able to see the business' address, phone number, hours of business, types of payment accepted, reviews, and more. The user also has the ability to rate and review the business right from their mobile device. They will then receive personalized recommendations in their search results based on their preferences. Google is starting its campaign for Google Places in Austin, but has made no mention of where it could expand the program to in the future.

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