The publication of a patent filing has fuelled specualtion that Internet search engine Google is gearing up to launch a payments service, dubbed GPay, that would enable users to pay for purchases using SMS text messages.
Google filed for a "text message payment" patent in February 2006, but details of the filing have only just been published.
The GPay patent filing details how a sms text message from a mobile phone could trigger a "computer-implemented method of effectuating an electronic online payment". A user would send a text message to Google that gives details of a payment to a specified payee. GPay would debit the user's bank account and credit the payee.
The release of the patent filling follows fevered speculation on Internet blogs last week that Google was developing a new Internet-enabled mobile phone, dubbed GPhone. It is thought that the new Google Phone will be rolled out with the GPay payment service pre-installed.
Google already operates an online payments processing system, called Google Checkout, which competes with eBay's PayPal service.