Google is set to launch an NFC mobile payments service in conjunction with mobile network operator Sprint on May 26, according to a Bloomberg news report.
Google will unveil its much anticipated mobile payments service on May 26, according to Bloomberg. The service will be available to US customers of Sprint Nextel, "three people familiar with the matter" told Bloomberg:
The service will let consumers with specially equipped phones that run on Google's Android operating system pay for goods and redeem coupons with their handsets, said the people, who wouldn't be identified because the plan isn't public. The technology is available on the Android-powered Nexus S from Sprint, the third-largest US wireless operator.
Google is rolling out so-called near field communication technology, which lets people pay at NFC-equipped cash registers with a flick of their phone, to boost revenue from mobile advertising and discounts.
Rumours of a planned mobile payments venture from Google have been circulating since NFC functionality was first added to Android phones in December 2010 and NXP confirmed the Nexus S is equipped to perform mobile payments. In January, Google's Eric Schmidt explained in the Harvard Business Review that mobile money is a key part of Google's strategy for 2011.
The same month, Google hired Osama Bedier, PayPal's vice president of product development and a key player in the company's move towards mobile payments. In March, Bloomberg reported that Google was planning a mobile payments trial in New York and San Francisco and the Wall Street Journal reported that the internet giant had partnered with Citibank and MasterCard for the venture. Bloomberg now expects Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, DC to get Google payments as well as New York and San Francisco.
Earlier this month, POS terminal maker Ingenico confirmed that it was working with Google on the development of "NFC applications for merchants" and a job advert appeared — and quickly disappeared — for an EMEA head of commerce marketing to lead the company's mobile wallet and offers division.
But at the Google I/O conference earlier this month software engineers working on Android's NFC capabilities raised concerns over the viability of NFC card emulation mode for mobile payments. New research published by Argentina-based NFC specialists Gibraltar Software Factory this week, however, shows that card emulation capabilities were added, but hidden, in the latest Android 2.3.4 release.