It has been no secret that Google has ambitions for a mobile NFC payment system. They just confirmed that today with the announcement of the upcoming Google Wallet service. They have teamed up with Citi (bank/card issuer), MasterCard (card brand/payment network), FirstData (payment processor), and Sprint (carrier) to bring together their service into fruition. With the service they will allow Android phones like the Google Nexus S to make payments at any of the 120,000+ stores in the US that access MasterCard PayPass.
We all know that RIM has their own ambitions in the mobile NFC payments space and was even working with MasterCard at one time. The thing is we have heard that carriers are battling RIM over their attempt to do it themselves. That is where I found something interesting in their latest announcement of the BlackBerry OS 7 SDK which will have a new:
Near Field Communication (NFC) APIs, taking advantage of the new NFC radio, allows you to read and emulate virtual tags and create rich solutions for payment and m-commerce.
This might mean that RIM would allow other developers to create their own NFC payment systems. We might see a service like Google Wallet being the NFC solution for BlackBerry. The interesting twist in Google Wallet is that it allows you to add multiple cards including a prepaid “Google Payment Card.” In other words it does not tie it to the carriers. Something makes me think that carriers won’t give up on this easily and will want a piece of the pie. They have been slowing down mobile payments in the US for years due to their greed and it looks like NFC might be changing the tide.
I know companies who would be interested in RIM coming up with their own NFC solution like Google Wallet that would allow for payments through one of the MasterCard, Visa, Discover, or AmEx “tap and pay” solutions. Imagine if companies could issue corporate credit cards to BlackBerrys over a BES and control them that way. Could have some interesting ramifications… Especially if RIM revived their own BlackBerry Wallet app to make use of it.
What do you guys think?