It took a really long time to get popular here in the United States, but mobile payments are finally starting to take off. Other nations, particularly in Asia, have been using similar techniques for years to pay for groceries and subway rides, but near-field communication (NFC) has taken a great deal of time to mature here.
is obviously looking to get into the game. The Google-powered Nexus S is one of the first smartphones in the States to have an embedded NFC
chip, and this week The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the company will be joining Citi Group and MasterCard in order to "embed technology in Android mobile devices that would allow consumers to make purchases by waving their smartphones in front of a small reader at the checkout counter."
As with most everything that Google does, customer data and advertising is involved. The project would theoretically enable Google to provide retailers with data about customers and help them target advertising towards them, and this should be profitable given that Google won't be getting a cut of each transaction. Things are reportedly in their early stages right now, but if put into motion, Citi Group cardholders would be able to "pay for purchases by activating a mobile-payment application developed for one current model and many coming models of Android phones." We suspect the term "e-wallet" will become increasingly popular.
Phone owners would also be able to receive target ads or discounts, and from there, Google will sell that to local merchants. The project will also involve VeriFone Systems, and if Google gets their feet wet, it's conceivable to think that NFC will truly take off shortly after. Would you be interested in investing in a phone that can make payments, and moreover, be interested in receiving targeted ads in exchange for discounts?