In a move that seems to be surprising, yet not surprising, Google reported today that they will be testing a near field communications mobile payment service. This test will be performed in San Francisco and New York and will start within the next four months.
This technology, called NFC for short, will enable users to pay for items with cell phones only. This would eliminate the need for bringing a credit card or cash to make purchases.
This service will work only with phones that have the necessary chip to work. The Nexus S is really the only big one on the market currently that has the needed chip so this test will only be for a small group. There’s a great chance this will use a version of Google Checkout for the transaction.
RIM are also supporting NFC and it looks like they may be leaning towards Google for this service. All Android devices using gingerbread OS 2.3 and higher will also be compatible with NFC so later this year, there should be a lot of devices supporting this technology.
AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile have already, last year, joined together and formed the Isis mobile commerce network. These three manufactures are working together to create essentially the same service as Google. The exact plans for the Isis network has not been revealed. Big questions are whether or not these systems will work without problem on the same devices, or will different phones be locked to certain payment services.
Lastly, recently Apple stated that the iPhone 5, this years model, will not be supporting this type of payment services.
So is Google planning to position themselves against the three major phone networks with their NFC technology when most phones use AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon? Makes me also wonder, if both the Google and the Isis networks are successful, will this turn into the next MasterCard vs. Visa battle only with cell phones?