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Android NFC still not for payments

During the Google I/O conference this week there was a presentation called How to NFC. People who were hoping to hear about payments were in for a big disappointment. While the demonstrations were very interesting and innovative not a single one had anything to do with payments.

By the end of the talk they mentioned that card emulation is still not supported in Android and there are good reasons for that. NFC supports a wide range of tag technologies, for instance RFID, FeliCa and MiFare. A single phone can read and write several tag technologies, but can typically only emulate one. So it's currently a hardware limitation combined with the lack of a single dominating standard for contactless payments.

However, what Android does support is something called peer-to-peer using NDEF Push where data can be sent to another NFC device formatted as an NDEF (NFC Data Exchange Format) message. The speakers strongly recommended this as an alternative to card emulation for mobile payments, but they were not aware of any such projects yet. It almost sounds like they forgot about their own project with Citigroup and MasterCard, but more likely that project is using some kind of card emulation anyway to be able to communicate with the VeriFone terminals.

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Comments: (2)

Brett King
Brett King - Moven - New York 15 May, 2011, 20:22Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Don't let this fool you. I was at an event for FirstData two weeks ago and met with Osama Beider who is one of the guys responsible for the payments side. He very firmly sees NFC payments as the future of Google. Just because Gingerbread (Android 2.3) doesn't have NFC payments as native, does not mean Google isn't working on NFC payments.

BK

Adam Nybäck
Adam Nybäck - Anyro - Stockholm 18 May, 2011, 22:46Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Yep. That just confirms what I mentioned in the last paragraph of this blog post. No one fooled here.