Money from thin air - Google to announce NFC payments
Cheques are all but dead, and some would argue paper notes aren't far behind - we're in an age where people feel no shame in holding up the queue while buying a Twix on their debit card.
The next step forward in mainstream retail is the paperless and cardless wallet, with all transactions happening through Near Field Communications (NFC). That's the technology that will see mobiles carrying electronic bank balances or travel passes, and a transmitter will allow us to pay for goods or pass through train barriers with a wave of the handset.
And it seems the future is only a day away. Tomorrow, Google is expected to reveal their first steps into mainstream contactless payments; according to the Wall Street Journal, several partner companies including Subway have changed their terminals in key US cities to accept NFC payments from newer Android handsets that include NFC technology. Google is expected to reveal other companies that will be involved in upcoming US trials, as well as announce details of how developers can build apps for the new platform.
Google wouldn't necessarily take a cut of the cash – they’re more interested in the technology allowing them to learn about consumer spending habits and delivering targetted ads and offers. Yes, you’d be inadvertently handing over even more personal data to Google. In return, however, consumers could receive targeted discount offers, manage credit-card accounts, spending and loyalty points through new applications.
Paper money has a long and healthy life ahead of it; NFC trials will still take several years and mainstream adoption might take a decade or two. Google isn't the only company looking to rule the embryonic world of paperless wallets, however; US start-up Square, a system that allows any handset to take secure credit card payments, is gaining plenty of momentum in the US, and other companies are keen to follow suit.