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Contactless payment

Google’s new battle; contactless payment

Google are always looking to be at the forefront of technology, being one of the worlds biggest businesses, the biggest search engine, and one of the most profitable – it’s understandable they like to have as many fingers in as many pies as possible. Only looking at search was always going to be difficult.


Google have tried a lot of new things over the years, android software platforms, social networking attempts, email (effectively killing hotmail signups) however this is about to change. As in Google’s words, “In the past few thousand years, the way we pay has changed just three times—from coins, to paper money, to plastic cards. Now we’re on the brink of the next big shift.”


Imagine if you will, waking up and leaving the house without your wallet. You’ve already travelled 20 minutes and you’re risking being late again. You remembered your phone, because it was what woke you up, and the first thing in your pocket. You’re running low on petrol too. What Google Wallet suggests is that you’re then able to drive up to the forecourt, put some petrol in, tap your phone on the reader (either at the pump or in the station) and drive away, payment made, you can then go to lunch and buy a sandwich – go shopping etc. You can also have multiple cards in your Wallet, as well as keeping vouchers, offers and most importantly, a lock on the wallet itself to prevent unauthorised usage. No longer will you be worried about pickpockets or leaving your wallet on the train.


I’m unsure if a wallet should be seen as an inconvenience – let’s face it, we all feel strange if we don’t have any cash on us, and we carry so little now as we mostly pay by credit/debit card. It’s not like 10 or 15 years ago where only certain cards were accepted and it was before the days of chip and pin – Barclays are currently running contactless technology too, which is essentially a £15 limit on purchases so not really on the scale of being able to make large purchases – however still a similar ideal.


Currently only available on Nexus S Smartphones with a 4G connection (albeit trialling) it automatically discriminates against those who don’t currently have the software platform for it. Google themselves will hold exclusive rights and I imagine it will be down to Google’s competition in the phone market (after the recent acquisition of Motorola) such as Apple, Samsung, HTC to implement this software at a cost to them. It’s a difficult one to call as I can see Apple and co looking at this and saying “Why would we bother using their software for a problem that they’re making bigger than it actually is and driving more brand awareness to our competition, who can then further track our customers and profile them?”


Google, Apple, Visa, MasterCard and co are currently battling in this market and are fighting for market share. For the masses to adopt this contactless payment method. Only one can win. I know who I am backing.

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