March 15, 2011

According to a Bloomberg article this morning, Google plans to start testing a mobile-payment service at stores in New York and San Francisco within four months, letting shoppers use their phones to pay for purchases.

The company will pay to have thousands of merchant terminals from VeriFone installed in stores in the two cities, the article reports. The terminals will be able to communicate with the near-field-communication technology built into some Android phones, which facilitates contactless mobile payments.

Neither Goole nor VeriFone have confirmed this report. A Google spokesperson reached for comment said, "We're not commenting on rumor and speculation."

Such a test would fit neatly with a comment Google CEO Eric Schmidt made at a conference a few days ago: "If you don't have a mobile strategy, you don't have a strategy."

This report comes a day after reports saying Apple told mobile carriers it does not plan to include NFC technology in the next iPhone; that instead, it wants to create its own version of NFC that should be ready in 2012, claiming that there's a lack of NFC standards today.

So Apple and Google appear to be taking divergent paths -- Google working with the NFC technology available today (that many carriers are committed to supporting), while Apple invents its own version of NFC and designs payment apps that funnel money through its iTunes store. Perhaps the success of these ventures will hinge on the respective popularity of iPhone and Android devices.

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