Google is set Thursday to debut its anticipated mobile payments system based on near-field communication (NFC) technology built into modern Android smartphones. It is expected that the search company will partner with Sprint to offer the service.
Such a move will put the carrier ahead of its three biggest rivals, who teamed up last year on a service called Isis. However that service is not expected to be available until 2012, leaving an opening for a competitor to stake its claim in a nascent market.
The announcement is expected at a scheduled press event in New York, and will be available in New York and San Francisco initially. Those two cities were selected as areas to test the service. Several retailers have signed up to participate in the service, including Macy's, clothing store American Eagle, and fast food chain Subway according to the Wall Street Journal.
It is widely expected that the payment service will tie in with Google's advertising offerings. Retailers will be able to offer special deals for customer loyalty as well as discount coupons and the like according to previous reporting.
Google will not take a cut from transaction fees, likely in an effort to speed adoption, but will make its money from these advertising offers to its partners. It was not clear from reports if Google's service will be limited to Citigroup and Mastercard credit card holders, as was earlier rumored.
While not specifically confirming its planned payment service, Google executives have confirmed that NFC will play a significant role in their company's future plans. At the TechCrunch Disrupt conference this week in New York City, Google's commerce and payments chief Stephanie Tilenius said that "we're making a big bet on [NFC] as a company," adding "there is a lot of potential there."
Google was not available as of press time for comment on Wednesday's news reports.