updated 10:35 am EST, Tue January 4, 2011
Google NFC payment system tipped for Android
Google is developing its own NFC-based wireless payment system that could go head-to-head with not just possible options from Apple but also upcoming industry standards, a pair of insiders said Tuesday. The approach would let users buy goods at stores with an Android 2.3 or later phone like the Nexus S just by getting close to an NFC transceiver. As expected, it would involve an ad system, Bloomberg said, and could arrive later in 2011.
The company declined to comment.
A payment system was virtually expected for NFC use in Android, as the technology is so far limited to Google Places interaction and the otherwise handful of limited utilities available so far. Google signaled its intentions more clearly last month when it bought Zetawire to bolster its wireless payment options.
Its plans could run headlong into those from Apple. While it hasn't given any clues of direct plans for a full wireless payment system, it hired Benjamin Vigier to head up a Mobile Commerce group that would almost certainly handle NFC payments, possibly including both standardized formats like FeliCa as well as Apple-specific services. A recent patent for direct payment hinted that users might even rely on balance from an iTunes account to pay for their goods.
This year's iPhone may have NFC built-in and could already have a short-term use for syncing Mac accounts just by getting close to a future NFC-equipped Mac.
Whether or not Google's system would gel with anything from Apple or with wider bodies is uncertain. An implementation for Android would clash with the multi-carrier system Ibis proposed with help from AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, as well as European and Japanese approaches. It wouldn't necessarily be the case that a given phone or other device would be limited to a singular format, however, and hardware designers could upgrade firmware to support new standards as they come along or become popular.