Google to Announce its NFC Mobile-Commerce Initiative

Google has confirmed it will be making a “partner announcement” concerning its NFC mobile-commerce initiative, which will be held tomorrow in New York.

Google is expected to announce the launch of its NFC mobile wallet and m-commerce applications with Citigroup and MasterCard Worldwide, which will provide the payment service for the project. Among other companies likely to be at the event are processor and trusted service manager First Data.

Stephanie Tilenius, vice president of commerce at Google, confirmed the pending announcement today at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York City. “We’re making a big bet on it as a company,” she said, speaking of NFC. “There is a lot of potential there.”

Google has been working for a number of months on the mobile wallet, along with mobile-commerce applications for its Android operating system, NFC Times reported in January. The launch of the project has been delayed several times, however. The wallet, which Google has developed with the help of its NFC chip supplier, NXP Semiconductors, will play host to payment applications provided by partners. Citi, along with MasterCard, has been working with Google on the concept for some time.

Plans call for Citi to issue a prepaid MasterCard PayPass application to be loaded onto Google’s Nexus S and, later, perhaps other Android phones, NFC Times reported last week.

The large Subway sandwich chain in the United States will participate in the launch, according to sources. A Wall Street Journal article reported this as well and that other merchants will include the Macy’s department store and clothing chain American Eagle Outfitters. Starbucks also has been approached by Google, among other merchants, sources told NFC Times. It's not clear whether Starbucks will participate.

None of these merchants now reportedly accept contactless payment in the United States. But more than 100,000 merchant outlets already have readers installed stateside and, therefore, could accept payment from a PayPass application on the Nexus S.

Update: The first phase of the service is expected to launch as early as tomorrow in New York and San Francisco and possibly a few other cities. A larger phase of the project will start in September of this year. Google hopes to have at least 500,000 Nexus S phones activated in the pockets of U.S. consumers by the end of the year, NFC Times has learned. End update.

Google is keen on using NFC and smartphones supporting Android to enable merchants and consumer products companies to deliver targeted advertising and offers to prospective shoppers, based on their location, buying preferences and other data.

It would use NFC to enable consumers to tap tags embedded in smart posters to download coupons and other offers and perhaps product information, as well as to pay, sources have said. These NFC services could work along with cloud-based apps. Google is also expected to offer its Google Places app, which enables users to tap tags embedded in stickers or decals on merchant storefronts to download information about the businesses and to rate and review the establishments.

The Web giant has been talking to other banks, in both North America and Europe, to provide the payment piece of the mobile-commerce service, NFC Times has learned. First Data is expected to provide processing and TSM services for the U.S. launch, the latter services with its technology partner SK C&C USA. Google also is reportedly working with such point-of-sale and contactless reader vendors as VeriFone, Ingenico and perhaps Vivotech to enable users to tap their phones to pay and redeem coupons and other offers at the checkout counter.

The launch will put the Citi-issued PayPass application inside Google’s mobile wallet, where it will be stored on the embedded secure chip in the Nexus S, sources earlier told NFC Times. Google is expected to have overall control of the secure chip and application-programming interfaces, or APIs, to access it, said the sources. Google commissioned Samsung Electronics to make the Nexus S, which is distributed mainly through consumer electronics stores.

Such phone makers as BlackBerry producer Research in Motion and Samsung, manufacturer of other Android handsets, also are interested in controlling the embedded secure chip in their phones. 

This sets up a possible showdown with mobile operators over control of the secure elements in NFC phones. Google's m-commerce initiative could represent the first shot in a coming mobile wallet war, say some observers.

HEADLINE NEWS

Budding MaaS App Hits Milestone for Public Transit Tickets but Share of Total Rides Still Low

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – U.S.-based trip-planning app Transit announced it has enabled 500,000 rides from its app for a group of 13 small to mid-tier transit agencies based in the state of Ohio, though mobile ticketing still makes up a small percentage of total rides provided by the agencies.

Insight: Apple Pay Launch of Virtual Closed-Loop Virtual Clipper Card Follows Emerging Trend

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Although the trend for transit agencies to support open-loop fare payments, including with Apple Pay, Google Pay and other Pays wallets, has continued unabated–even accelerated–during the pandemic, another trend is taking shape: That of agencies adding virtual versions of their closed-loop fare cards into the Pays wallets.

First Transit Agency to Sell Tickets Through Uber App Sees Relatively Few Takers Two Years on

Apr 21 2021

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – The Regional Transportation District of Denver was the first transit agency to work with Uber to sell its bus and light rail tickets through the Uber app in the spring of 2019. RTD later that year expanded the service to trip-planning app Transit and then last fall to the app for another ride-hailing service, Lyft.

Sydney to Test Multimodal Payments Involving Private Mobility Providers Using Digital Closed-Loop Card

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – A trial to be held later this year in Australia’s largest city, Sydney, if it proves successful, could offer one example for how agencies can encourage customers to take multimodal transport combining public and private operators. The economics behind the New South Wales government’s trial offer are unclear, however.

Rome Transit Operator: Covid Accelerates Demand for Contactless Payments but Customer Habits Hard to Change

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – The CIO of Italy’s largest public transit operator, ATAC SpA, said the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated demand for open-loop contactless and mobile payments, but added that old habits are hard to break for customers and use of cash and paper tickets are still popular.

Dubai Transit Authority Plans to Launch Its Closed-Loop Card in More NFC Wallets

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority, or RTA, which in December first launched mobile fare payments with a digital version of its closed-loop card in Huawei smartphones, says it plans to expand the service to other OEMs, including Apple and Samsung.

Case Study: Transit Agency in Portugal Combined NFC with BLE for Mobile Ticketing; Faced Challenges

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – The agency that runs ticketing for 19 public bus, tram and train operators serving Porto, Portugal’s second largest city, says it has had success–and faced several challenges–with the rollout of its Anda mobile-ticketing app.

OMNY Hits New Usage Milestone as Open-Loop Payments Rollout Continues

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA, says it continues to see steady growth of its open-loop fare payments service, OMNY, announcing 50 million taps by customers using NFC wallets and bank cards to ride the massive New York City Subway and the city’s buses.

In-Depth: Contactless Open-Loop Pilot in Spain First Project from Vendor Partnership

Mar 11 2021

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Bilbobus, which operates bus service for the city of Bilbao, in northern Spain’s Basque region, says it launched its recent trial of con

Moscow Metro Plans Rollout of ‘Face Pay’ Technology for Fare Collection

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – The Moscow Metro plans to roll out facial-recognition technology at every station by the end of 2021 to enable customers to pay fares, officials say. The project, while delayed, would be the largest of its kind globally.

Stockholm Transit Agency Launches Open-Loop Fare Payments for Multimodal Rides

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Stockholm Public Transport, or SL, the city-owned company that oversees major public transport in the city, is the latest agency in Europe to launch open-loop fare collection, offering multimodal rides with a tap of a contactless EMV bank card or NFC device.

Case Study: Amsterdam Transit Operator Seeks to Go Nearly 100% Digital for Ticketing to Cut Costs and Enhance Service

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – GVB, Amsterdam’s largest public transit operator, says it seeks to replace an aging closed-loop fare card system and go to open-loop and other digital tokens with the planned rollout of its new account-based ticketing system.