There are not one but two pieces of News from Googleplex, that are bound to have a long-lasting impact on the average consumer.
By average, I mean the people who own a mid-ranged (at-least) Android Device (lower end Android devices like Micromax a70 / Kyocera & others do not have NFC hardware) and have a VISA / MasterCard Credit Card.
For a List of NFC enabled Handsets go HERE. Please note, this post is only about Google’s Android Handsets having NFC Chip within them. The list does include many handsets that have NFC capabilities but Google has not announced any plans to license the technology to other Mobile Operating Systems / Platforms with NFC hardware (Symbian, Windows, BlackBerry etc.)
Google has announced
partnership no…. it has “Licensed” (I am tempted to use the word “acquired”, but I will not) VISA’s Near-Field Communications (NFC) based payment technology called PayWave. Many might not be aware but PayWave has been in the market for quite some time (since Sep 2007), but could not make any sizable dent in the credit card + contactless payment market as it was marred with anarchic laws.
This partnership clearly means that customers who own a VISA credit card will now be able to save their credit card information (securely, I might add) on their NFC enabled Android devices & make purchases at any outlet that accepts VISA credit card (who doesn’t!) AND (this is a big “and” for the time being) have NFC reader hardware present in their shops (the list is growing steadily)
Hence, Google has announced that Google Wave has gone LIVE! That is, after conducting field trials for few months in New York city & San Francisco, the system is being rolled out at Macy’s (Departmental Store), Walgreens (Pharmaceutical) & Subway (you know…. Subway)!
The further good news is that Google has partnered with MasterCard! Using PayPass!
Similar to PayWave, the Paypass system too, could not garner huge support, but unlike VISA hurdles, the only issue hampering wide adoption was absence of enhanced user-friendliness. But that is about to change as Google’s Android rests in a Phone, the ultimate portable & user-friendly device!
So, what does this mean for Indians?
Indians are increasingly using Credit Cards, hence there is an immediate need for such ultra-fast contact-less payment systems.
Moreover, VISA & MasterCard are the two dominating Credit-Card issuers in India.
However, there is a catch (isn’t there always?). The contact-less payment system has multiple partners who have to work in tandem.
Your Mobile Phone with NFC hardware: You can get that easily.
Your Credit Card issuing Bank has to be ready (& willing) to roll out Contact-less payment option. Though this is not a technical hurdle, however it is more of a policy decision by the Banks to allow consumers to “load” their credit-card information onto their NFC enabled phones (security, fraud etc. are the usual issues to deny such service). However, the recent & rampant rollout of “Mobile Banking” by multiple Banks is a sure sign of relief!
Google-wallet: The agency that will achieve a “marriage” between all the various companies / agencies involved.
The actual Pont-Of-Sale i.e. the merchant / seller etc. should have an additional NFC reader hardware. By far this is the largest hurdle in India, owing to the shear magnitude of NFC equipment that need to be distributed. However, this can be overcome… remember the Credit Card reader hardware were rare once upon a time, but now they are VERY common.
Go ahead and buy a higher-end Android device (Samsung Galaxy S II anyone!). This way you will not only enjoy, the upcoming Ice-cream Sandwich OS sooner, but will also have an NFC enabled device which will enable you to simply Swipe / Tap the payment counter at your local Subway to instantly shoot-up your tech (or geek!) credentials!
An added advantage of NFC is support for loyalty programs, reward points, coupons and automatic application of any earned discounts to the purchase! Receipts are stored electronically on the phone. Save Paper!
Source [Google Blog]