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Wednesday May 25, 2011 10:40 am

Google and Sprint set to launch NFC payments tomorrow


Google Sprint NFC

Google is preparing to roll out a payment system on Sprint phones that would use near-field communications (NFC) technology, according to a report.

Bloomberg reported Tuesday that the service would be available on the Sprint Nexus S across five different U.S. metropolitan regions: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Google has sent out announcements to a press event at 11:15 AM local time at Google's New York offices on Thursday, advertised as a partner even where Google will show off its "latest innovations".

Google representatives couldn't immediately be reached for comment. NFC technology is also reportedly being used by the Apple iPhone 5. Three major U.S. wireless carriers recently announced their support for an NFC payment system called Isis, which would let Americans pay for items at retail stores with their mobile phones rather than using physical credit cards.

Google Eric Schmidt, then the company's chief executive, showed off the NFC technology last November at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, running the "Gingerbread" version of the Android operating system.


NFC, or near-field communications, is a way for two devices to communicate small amounts of data when they're placed about four inches apart. Similar technologies are used for "mobile wallet" services such as Japan's popular Mobile Felica system, where a mobile phone stores encrypted credit-card data, transit pass information, or retail coupons, and can transmit them to readers at stores or train stations with a tap.

One way to look at NFC is that it's like RFID, but smart on both sides. RFID chips like those in Mastercard's PayPass credit cards, Visa's PayWave cards, and San Francisco's Clipper transit cards are dumb chips that store data which can be read or altered by card readers. When you tap the chip on a reader, it performs a transaction. NFC takes this a step further by putting the RFID chip in something that can do its own computing, like a mobile phone. So the phone itself can download coupons, for instance, and put the coupon data onto the RFID chip before it's tapped.

More whimsically, a version of "Angry Birds" will require NFC for social play.

Bloomberg's report is a followup to a March report that claimed that Google would begin testing the NFC technology in San Francisco and New York. Google will reportedly pick up the tab to have custom cash register systems from VeriFone Systems installed at select merchants, Bloomberg reported then. A customer could then pay registers by tapping a mobile phones equipped with a near-field communication (NFC) chip.

This article, written by Mark Hachman, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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