Google is working with banking giant Citigroup and credit card provider Mastercard to develop ‘electronic wallet’ functionality for its mobile phone operating system Android, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Citing sources familiar with the project, the system would allow card holders to approve payments using an Android application. It would also allow businesses to offer customers deals based on their payment activity, the report claims.
The report says the project also includes Verifone Systems, which supplies near-field communications (NFC), or ‘contactless’, payment technology. It has been reported that a forthcoming version of the Nexus S, the Android phone developed by Google itself, will include NFC technology, but that it will only support passive functions such as scanning RFID tags.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Apple is planning to build NFC technology into the next version of its iPhone device, specifically to allow mobile payments.
For both companies, mobile payments represent an opportunity to collect a lot more information about their customers and to become even more important partners for retailers.
Their support also makes mobile payments a more viable technology in the West (they are already well established in Asia and Africa). For businesses, this means that mobile payments data is likely to become an important new source of information to integrate, manage and analyse.