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According to a story from PC World, Verizon (VZ) has partnered with a company called Payfone to create a Verizon mobile payment platform. It won’t do near field communication, like Google Wallet and other payment platforms. Instead, Verizon said the service will “allow Verizon Wireless customers to make online purchases from their smartphones, tablets and PCs using numerous payment methods, including charging purchases to their monthly wireless statements or using traditional payment methods through financial institution partners.” Payfone is a mobile commerce company based out of New York, which is partnered with American Express (AXP).
Near field communication, if you haven’t heard, is a technology that allows smartphones to function more or less as credit cards. Using special terminals (the same ones that are often used to scan debit cards at retailers), NFC-enabled smartphone owners can just wave or tap their phones at the point of sale and send payment information directly to the retailer as if they were scanning a credit card or other form of payment. Google Wallet handles all the storage and transfer of information, and keeps it secure in doing so.
Google Wallet will be exclusive to Sprint, at least in its infancy. The service will first be available on the Google Nexus S 4G, which is only available on Sprint, as Google (GOOG) tests it for a bit. After that, Google will roll the service out on other NFC-enabled smartphones, and any company that wants to partner up. Verizon’s new platform with Payfone, on the other hand, is designed to handle web payments.
Verizon actually has multiple mobile payment platforms going, according to PC World, including one called Isis that was created through a partnership between Verizon, AT&T (T) and T-Mobile. That platform is NFC-enabled, and would basically do some of the same things as Google Wallet. Isis is expected to be available next year.
The overall point, it seems, is that Verizon is betting on using smartphones as a means for handing over money, and they’re likely trying to get those platforms going pretty soon, rather than wait for Google Wallet, which is probably the best-known service, to get through its testing this summer and start meandering to other networks. Lots of platforms mean lots of options for users, though, and hopefully some powerful, secure ways to complete commerce on the fly. Options are nice, and competition is going to help make all these payment processes better. And if the way Google and Apple (AAPL) compete is any indication, successful mobile payment platforms are going to give Google a reason to refine its process, honing Google Wallet, and by extension many other platforms, as time goes on.