updated 07:45 am EDT, Tue March 15, 2011
Google to trial NFC payment with VeriFone
Google is nearing a trial of an NFC (near field communication) wireless payment system of its own, tipsters claimed Tuesday. A test in New York and San Francisco would see VeriFone supply cash registers with NFC built-in so that owners of NFC-equipped phones like Google's own Nexus S could pay just by bringing the device close to the register. Bloomberg was told it might go beyond just payment to include gift cards, loyalty programs and coupons.
The test would go live at "thousands" of stores in New York City and San Francisco in the next four months. It's unclear how soon it would become a regular service, if it would be a truly cross-platform standard or if it would be tied to Google Checkout and heavily favor platforms like Android.
Neither of the involved companies agreed to comment.
The system is potentially risky as it might end up undermining attempts to create an American standard. The ISIS service has support from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon and wouldn't be tied to one company's payment system. Separate standards already exist as well, such as FeliCa in Japan.
A Google trial would help explain VeriFone's attempted smear of Square. Along with protecting its traditional businesses, VeriFone would have an interest in trying to scare companies away from Square's plug-in card reader and towards its own NFC system.
Multiple other phone makers are hoping to bring NFC into their phones for the first time this year. The BlackBerry will get NFC in 2011 models, and Nokia has also pledged the same. Apple is also rumored to be giving NFC to the iPhone 5, although there have been both doubting sources as well as possible, unintentional confirmation.