Google Targeting Android Smartphone Payments

CYBERSPACE — Google is moving closer to allowing mobile payment for Android smartphones.

According to reports, the search giant is partnering with MasterCard and Citigroup to provide users with an embedded app that will allow them to simply wave their phones in front of Verifone readers to make purchases.

In its early stages, the “electronic wallet’ service would allow Citigroup debit and credit card holders to use their Android phones to make purchases.

Google is expected to launch the service later this year in hopes of bolstering its advertising business by providing retailers with targeted data about their customers. Google would take a portion of the transaction fees.

A recent Bloomberg article said Google is planning to install and pay for "thousands" of Android-compatible near-field communication systems (NFC) around New York City and San Francisco to test the service.

The new system would be as relatively secure as most conventional credit card transactions.

Nick Holland, a mobile-transactions analyst at the Yankee Group told the Wall Street Journal, "Because it's contact-less there's a perception people can grab it from thin air, but it's actually a more sophisticated technology than credit cards with a magnetic stripe, making it more difficult to steal a consumer's payment information.

The Journal also reported that Google may expand its partnerships with other card issuing financial institutions if the initial testing is successful.

Although he wouldn’t comment on his company’s relationship with Google, Verifone’s chief executive Doug Bergeron said in a Journal interview, "A phone is a lot smarter than a card. It opens the door to a rich experience at the point of sale that retailers really covet."