Google, MS, Amex make m-payment plays

Caroline Gabriel/Rethink Wireless
31 Mar 2011

As the web players, operators and financial institutions all fight for pole position in the mobile payments value chain, activity is heating up, and several key players have made their latest moves in the past week.

Google has teamed up with MasterCard and Citigroup on an m-payment service that would use embedded NFC chips in Android smartphones, according to The Wall Street Journal. The search giant's strategy is to make mobile payments simpler “in a bid to boost its advertising business.”

Google would offer retailers more data about their customers and allow them to target users with ads and discount offers when in the vicinity of their stores. The company would not take a share of the transaction fees.

Holders of Citigroup debit and credit cards would make purchases using an application “developed for one current model and many coming models of Android phones.” The first NFC-enabled Android phone, Google's own Nexus S handset, was launched in December.

However, the report says Google's project with its two financial partners is “in its early stages.” Google is expected to run the first trials in New York and San Francisco soon, working with Verifone.

Microsoft is also said to be close to supporting NFC in its smartphone platform, following Android, Symbian and BlackBerry (and with Apple thought to be not far behind). A WP7 device with embedded NFC is reported to be scheduled for release before year end, according to Bloomberg.

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