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Google reportedly set to test a mobile payment service

Google will begin testing the service, which enables customers to pay for items using their smart phones, at stores in San Francisco and New York in the next four months.

March 16, 2011|By Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from San Francisco— — Google Inc. has been hinting for months that it would roll out a mobile payment service so that shoppers could pay for purchases with their smart phones.

Now Bloomberg News is reporting that Google will begin testing the service at stores in San Francisco and New York in the next four months by installing thousands of cash register systems from VeriFone Systems Inc.

The technology — called near field communication, which transmits signals over short distances — would let shoppers ditch cash or plastic (or even loyalty and gift cards and coupons) and check out by tapping a smart phone against a register.

Google, which has taken a leading role in the mobile phone industry with its Android operating system that it offers free to handset manufacturers, has been pushing for phones equipped with the technology, although there aren't many such Google devices out there yet.

Google declined to comment.

Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt showed off what was presumed to be Samsung's Nexus S phone in November at the Web 2.0 Summit before the phone, which enables NFC transactions, was released. At the time he predicted that mobile phones would eventually replace credit cards.

"People don't understand how much more powerful these devices are going to be," Schmidt said. But he cautioned not to expect the technology to roll out quickly.

"I expect to be carrying my credit cards around for quite some time," he said.

Mobile payment is a highly competitive market with a growing number of entrants looking to cash in including EBay's PayPal and Isis, an effort backed by AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless that will use Discover Financial Services to handle payments.

Google has demonstrated how the latest version of its Android operating system — code named Gingerbread — has mobile payment capability. And in Portland, Ore., Google has been experimenting with NFC window decals that, when tapped with a smart phone, give additional information about the business, including special offers and deals.

jessica.guynn@latimes.com

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