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Google Wallet: NFC's watershed moment

Google Wallet: NFC's watershed moment

Near Field Communication (NFC) has been threatening to move over into the mainstream for almost two years. And while chatter about its inclusion in the iPhone 5 appears to have died down, today’s launch of Google Wallet is surely the moment that the tech moves over into the mainstream.

Launching on US network Sprint’s Nexus S 4G, the service allows punters across The Pond to pay for low-ticket goods using a Citi Mastercard, as well as a Google pre-paid card. Add a Groupon-style loyalty scheme (of which more later), and this is a service which should finally see NFC make it big.

Google Wallet generic graphic (large)

What makes the launch of Google Wallet particularly exciting is the announcement of new plans for Visa, Discover and American Express to get involved.

The companies have released their NFC specifications today, with Google suggesting each service could soon form part of their new app. That means that even if you don’t have Mastercard, you could soon be getting involved.

Until now, NFC has been something that has been threatening to break out. It’s been ever-present on the Nexus S since that phone’s launch back in December last year.

Google Nexus S

But the lack of visible, public facing products has meant its not garnered much mainstream attention.

While Google Wallet might not be out on every network yet, this first step should help prove to consumers that the time when leaving your physical wallet at home will soon be reality. The further news that Google has bought the Daily Deals website should also help sweeten the deal and get more users signing up as well.

The tie-up has been revealed by the owners of the German service, which says it’ll be merged into the Big G’s current Offers package. The fact they’ve hooked-up with a European company points to a launch on this side of the Atlantic very soon.

The wider impact could be felt imminently. NFC is already being trialed on a city-wide basis by Orange in Nice, France. If Google can prove Wallet works in The States and can get it sorted over here soon, then it’ll leave other tech rivals trailing.

nfc trial

And yes, that means Apple. Cupertino has been rumoured to be at the forefront of NFC implementation for years, but there’s no doubting that it’s Google leading the way now.

New Android phones now come with NFC as standard and you can expect that 2012 will be a boom year for this new tech. The idea of paying for coffee, clothes and the latest tech kit on your phone is no longer a pipe dream. NFC has crossed the rubicon.

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