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Google Wins Mobile Payments Race With Summer Launch Of ‘Wallet’ App

Well I guess you could say if Google is gonna get into this space, then all with be looking and wanting to follow.

A couple of interesting things I see in this space unfolding – one around the opportunity for targeted, relevant advertising ( with a bit of social location thrown in for good measure) and the second for a robust solution that tackles the area of fraud. Maybe device fingerprinting from a company such as Bluecava could provide a solution that tackles both these areas. Let’s see….

The race to make mobile payments mainstream is one of the most competitive contests in the wireless industry, pitting telecom operators against credit card companies, payment processors, handset makers and operating system providers. With its May 26 announcement that it is poised to launch a national mobile commerce network (using its Android phones), Google now appears to be in the lead.

The service, called Google Wallet, will store credit cards in electronic form on Android phones. Users will be able to pay for purchases by wirelessly “tapping” their handsets against special readers in participating stores. Users can also receive targeted offers, such as coupons for products they have bought in the past or have indicated they like, directly on their phones while in stores. Loyalty rewards will be automatically tallied within Wallet and receipts will be electronic, as well, popping up on the phone instead of printing out on paper.

Merchants have already started testing the setup and will begin trials in San Francisco and New York City before expanding nationally this summer. American Eagle, the Container Store, Macy’s, Subway, Toys “R” Us and Walgreens are part of the initial group of retailers that will support the system.

As the name Wallet suggests, the app will support a variety of different cards, including credit cards, loyalty cards and gift cards. At first, Google Wallet will only work with Citi MasterCards, since both companies are Google Wallet launch partners. Users can also opt to load money onto a prepaid, Google-hosted card that can be funded by another type of credit card. Google says it will add more cards over time and hopes to eventually include other types of ID and passes, such as drivers licenses, event tickets and electronic hotel keys.

Retailers, says Google, will benefit from a corresponding service called Google Offers that will enable consumers to search for special offers and save them to their Google Wallet. Those stored coupons can then be redeemed by tapping a Wallet-equipped phone at a cash register or showing the phone screen to a cashier.

Merchants will be able to customize incentives based on a customer’s location and transaction history. A particularly frequent customer can receive a higher-value deal than a less loyal customer, for instance. Google Offers will go live in Portland, San Francisco and New York City this summer.

Google also plans to support location-based “check-in” offers, offers that are placed like ads in Google searches and offers that are situated in Google’s local business/maps service, Google Places.

Using a cellphone as a wallet is convenient but could be risky. Google says its Wallet app contains multiple levels of security, including a phone screen lock and a required Google account and pin number. The search giant also says credit cards are encrypted on a secure element within the phone and never fully displayed.

Part of the security comes from a chip developed by European semiconductor maker NXP, which collaborated with Google on its latest flagship smartphone, the Samsung-made Nexus S. That chip also enables Google Wallet to communicate wirelessly with all the various Wallet partners, via a technology called NFC (near-field communication).

Google’s vision appears similar to strategies espoused by organizations like ISIS, the mobile commerce startup backed by AT&T, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless. New York-based ISIS is about a year behind Google, though it may have an advantage in being compatible with a greater variety of phones once it launches.

During Google’s Thursday New York event, its Vice President of Payments, Osama Bedier, argued that Google is “uniquely positioned” to roll out a mobile commerce program because of its wide-ranging partnerships forged through Android and its search and advertising businesses. Bedier, who was a top executive at eBay’s PayPal until January, noted, “This has to be an ecosystem; it can’t just be one company.”

Bedier also acknowledged Google’s lead in the mobile payments race by adding, “This is not just an idea or announcement…this is up and running.”

Source: http://blogs.forbes.com/elizabethwoyke/2011/05/26/google-wins-mobile-payments-race-with-summer-launch-of-wallet-app/

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Visa Advances Toward a Digital Wallet

Visa hopes its technology will lead to mobile device apps that create digital wallets.VisaVisa hopes its technology will lead to mobile device apps that create digital wallets. Visa is taking another big step in its continuing efforts to create a universal digital wallet. On Wednesday, the company announced plans to introduce a one-click payment system that will allow Visa customers to sign up for a set of credentials that will allow them to pay for items online with a single click. Jim McCarthy, the head of global products at Visa, said that the company was trying to simplify the process of buying items online or on a mobile site, which can be cumbersome for people who have to re-enter their card numbers and personal information each time they want to make a purchase online. “E-commerce is our fastest growing channel,” said Mr. McCarthy. “We know we can do a lot to improve the experience in the e-commerce environment.” People can buy things with one click at a particular site, say Amazon.com. But they can’t yet do it across the Web.

Visa’s new feature reduces the multitude of ways a consumer might want to pay for an item — whether with a Visa check card, a PayPal account or some other means — into a single log-in and password. All of the information is stored in Visa’s secured servers so that users only have to sign in to pay for their purchase. Mr. McCarthy said the service would be introduced to consumers in the United States and Canada by the year-end holiday shopping season. Visa has also been testing a system that lets users pay for items with an application that uses “near-field communication” technology on a mobile device to process a payment. This one-click system will also be wrapped into that service when it is introduced more broadly, the company said.

The company says that a customer’s entire financial history could be securely stored in one spot, along with frequent-flier accounts, medical benefits, even appliance warranty information from Best Buy, replacing the jumble of account information that most people have stored in different locations — on and offline. The first users of the service will probably be online gamers. The service will be introduced in social and online games, allowing Visa customers to buy virtual goods. Eventually, Mr. McCarthy said, the company will introduce it “broadly to e-commerce merchants, mobile and social commerce developers who will allow consumers to check out of a site with a single click.” Visa even plans to make the underlying code, or A.P.I., available to third-party developers who want to install the features on their payment Web sites. Visa executives said the plan was the result of two strategic acquisitions that the company made over the last several months — PlaySpan, a start-up that lets people pay for virtual goods in games, and CyberSource, an e-payments company.

Representatives at Visa said it was working with several banking partners, but did not specify which ones. Visa faces stiff competition as it ramps up its online and mobile offerings. American Express and other credit card issuers are fast at work developing and adopting their own solutions. Mobile carriers have also struggled to bring their own solutions to market, but it is not yet clear when or if, they will debut. “We’re trying to get ahead of the curve here,” said Mr. McCarthy.

Source: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/11/visa-takes-another-step-towards-building-a-mobile-wallet/