updated 11:30 pm EST, Thu March 1, 2012
Target and Walmart join pact on NFC payment
Target and Walmart have joined in the development of yet another mobile payment system, insides gave out on Thursday. The two were said by Wall Street Journal's contacts to now be part of a group with about 24 member store chains hoping to create a standard that, though not directly named, would use NFC. Consulting firm BetterBuyDesign's Steve Mott corroborated the plan by revealing its involvement in the project, with word that big chains as well as drugstores, fast food restaurants, and vending machine firms were involved.
Target acknowledged the existence of the plans, but it wasn't ready to provide details.
The collective is believed aware of the competition it faces from Google Wallet and from independent systems like Isis Mobile Wallet. They would hope to stand out by using their retail experience to create a service more tailored to their own needs rather than the product makers or those with little direct contact with customers.
It may not necessarily simplify the environment for NFC-based payments. Google Wallet is out in front, but with just one official US device on one carrier and one payment partner, it remains small. Isis isn't due to launch later in the year. With both active, many users might not have the option of using NFC on one or both services, partly as there are very few NFC-aware smartphones available.
The companies involved hinted that they might have an active distrust of Android and the risk of malware spreading through the NFC system. While such incidents haven't occurred yet, the only current alternative would be to use NFC-equipped BlackBerrys or hope that an iPhone with NFC solved their problems.