Google is to launch field trials of its much anticipated Google Wallet NFC Android app in partnership with VeriFone, MasterCard, Citi, Sprint and First Data.
At a much-hyped event at Google's New York HQ, the search engine colossus took the wraps off Google Wallet and Google Offers, billed by the company as a tipping point in the development of an open mobile payments platform.
Taken together, the two systems will aim to combine payments and merchant discounts at the point of sale, using the smart phone as an evolved "wallet of the future".
At the heart of the Google Wallet is MasterCard's contactless PayPass technology with the Nexus 4G phone on Sprint, funded by any Citi MasterCard or a virtual Google prepaid card. For non-NFC phones, Google is offering an NFC sticker that can be connected to a credit card and communicate with the virtual wallet app through the cloud.
Paul Galant, CEO, Citi global enterprise payments, says: "Today's announcement and our active collaboration with Google will be looked at as the inflection point for how mobile payments are evolving from concept to mass utilisation."
Field trials begin today, with full-scale pilots lined up in New York, Portland and San Fransisco in the summer.
Google has been testing a variety of consumer deals that can range from a 20% discount on a new pair of boots discovered on a Google search advertisement; to a $5 off check-in offer received upon entering a store. The offer can be redeemed manually at the till by barcode scanning or, "at participating Google SingleTap merchants", via single tap of the mobile handset.
"Someday, even things like boarding passes, tickets, ID and keys could be stored in Google Wallet," says the firm.
Google has partnered with VeriFone to equip leading merchants - including American Eagle Outfitters, Macys, Bloomingdales, and Radio Shack - with its NFC-enabled MX terminals.
VeriFone CEO Doug Bergeron says: "If these recent successful trials lead to wide scale deployment across the industry, we expect that our US growth will enjoy an incremental boost of $100 to $150 million dollars per year over the next several years, and even more than these amounts internationally."
At the New York event, Stephanie Tilenius, Google's VP of Commerce, hinted at Google's wider ambitions, inviting "payment networks, carriers, banks, (to) join us in creating tomorrow's shopping experience".