The race for mobile payments is quickening its pace, with Google (GOOG) expected to announce a mobile payments platform at a press event today. On the heels of Square revealing its own version of a mobile payments system, Google’s rumored to be launching its NFC-based program in select cities, with a handful of retail partners including Macy’s (M), American Eagle Outfitters (AEO), and Subway. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google Mobile Payments will likely hit New York and San Francisco first, with plans for broader rollout.
What’s in it for the partners?
There are several companies in the mobile industry that are excited about the potential of mobile payments, from OS operators to banks. Apple’s been rumored to have an NFC program of its own, though Google’s looking to beat them to the punch. Earlier this year Google was said to have set up specialized kiosks to support NFC payments at retail partners’ locations, embarking on a relatively early set up for the infrastructure Google will undoubtedly need in order to make mobile payments a truly viable alternative to pulling out your credit card at the register.
Google’s already gained the support of credit card companies, including Citigroup (C) and MasterCard (MA). With Google Payments already acting as a secondary payment option with wireless carriers, the search giant’s well established in its initial payments platform. Localizing the system in the physical world has big implications for supporting credit card companies, as well as the carriers that support Google’s efforts. With Google Mobile Payments, the company is also expected to team up with Sprint (S) for NFC technology, giving the carrier an advantage over Isis, a joint payments program between AT&T (T), Verizon (VZ) and T-Mobile.
What will we do with all that data?
Even with such a high profile initiative, Google Mobile Payments would still be an early program, with just one supported device and limited locations. The expectation would be that developers would build out NFC technology, and more retailers would put in kiosks. The data potential alone is encouraging of such development, parsing out information to the consumers, retailers and credit card companies, making Google and mobile carriers hubs for apps and services tied to this emerging market. The Wall Street Journal gives the example of the Pageonce app, which lets users manage their finances, and recommends the best credit cards to use for various payments, based on interest rates, balances, and available discounts. Imagine what kind of services will emerge from a centralized mobile payments platform once Google gets its data-hungry hands on it.