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Google Wallet pushes NFC to include new avenues

During the Mobile World Congress 2011, NFC ushered in new hopes and possibilities. It is known that the GSMA has undertaken 60 NFC trials under the umbrella of Pay Buy Mobile initiative while a decent number of device manufacturers had pledged involvement in producing more and more NFC-compliant devices this year; Samsung, ZTE, RIM, Nokia, LG, among others included.

Despite the fact that NFC has gained prominence lately and has become the toast of the mobile industry, Google has apparently been hogging the limelight.

In fact, Google has been talking a lot of NFC for quite some time as it had announced native support for NFC in Android 2.3 at the beginning of this year. Google’s forthcoming Nexus S smartphone to be manufactured in collaboration with Samsung is also to have an NFC chip in it.

In line with all the hype, Google had delivered on its announcements last month by way of unleashing the Google Wallet. Nexus S has been the primary focus though. This service is being initially offered in partnership with Sprint, Citi and Mastercard in the cities of New York and San Francisco. As an icing on the cake, Google Wallet presents Google Offers on top of usual offerings in the form of contactless-payment services enabled by MasterCard’s PayPass reader or the new SingleTap payment reader. Google Offers is touted to be Google’s version of Groupon that brings to consumers a distinctive way of redeeming coupons offered in the local stores through the Wallet service.

Although, Google Wallet is not the only NFC-enabled payment service to capture the consumers’ imagination, apparently, it has generated a lot of din. There is no denying the fact that Google attracts a lot of attention every time they announce a new product or service; Google Wallet is especially noteworthy because of the way it optimizes two key factors – smartphone apps and Google’s business model. These key factors hold the promise to power NFC services to touch the next level; beyond straightforward contactless transactions.

NFC technology is considered realistically mature. Experts believe that the GSMA’s Pay Buy Mobile drive has augmented a structure and security required to make it useable on a global scale. With using a Google product or service, comes the fringe benefit of getting to make use of the apps and functionalities one can easily plug in; eventually, creating something of greater value than merely paying bus fare or purchasing items from a shopping mall.

On a futuristic note, Google Wallet looks to bring in a plethora of functions that could use NFC as in carrying your driver’s license in your phone, hotel keycard etc in addition to keeping track of trivial but essential things like gift card balances and mobile ticketing. Google Offers should serve as a good hint with regards to what the future has on offer.

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