Nowadays, it seems like we use cell phones for just about anything: talking, e-mailing, watching TV, etc. And since our smartphones wind up traveling wherever we go, why not use them to our advantage for another on-the-go task -- shopping.
Search engine boss Google is now experimenting with a plan to allow New York City and San Francisco customers to make payments using only their mobile phones. While the plan is still in the testing stages, it’s one that could benefit consumers if it is implemented successfully.
According to Yahoo News, a source says Google (News - Alert) will finance the installation of “thousands” of enabled cash register systems from VeriFone Systems, Inc., at select retail locations to get this concept rolling. The registers would accept payments from cell phones equipped with near-field-communication (NFC) technology.
So, what is NFC technology? Basically, when customers are ready to check-out, all they would have to do is tap their phones on the NFC-compliant register to pay, serving as a quick and easy alternative to using a credit card or cash.
According to Bloomberg, Google’s NFC service “may combine a consumer’s financial account information, gift-card balances, store loyalty cards and coupon subscriptions on a single NFC chip on a phone,” basically creating a consumer identity stored on your device.
With the introduction of mobile shopping features like mobile barcodes, and Google goggles helping to make shopping effortless (and a little more fun), it’s not surprising this initiative was put into play.
Sounds like a great idea, but it’s also one that has been proposed in the past and is yet to be nationally implemented. The concept raises additional questions that in the past may have prevented it from taking off. For instance, what happens if you lose your cell phone carrying your consumer identity? Are there security options that will protect your personal records? And what good would it be to have NFC technology on your smartphone if the stores you plan to shop at do not have NFC-enabled registers?
I’m sure Google has a number of answers to these questions, or they wouldn’t be putting testing into motion; however, I'm interested to see what the implications are moving forward and as testing progresses. My suggestion to add to the concept would be to send electronic receipts to your smartphone after a transaction to further simplify the process and eliminate paper receipts (which I think we can all agree we can do without).
There’s no doubt if this concept does go into effect, it will take a long time to roll out across the country. It would definitely be beneficial, however, for companies who provide their employees with company cell phones who could automatically expense work-related expenditures using the service.
Rumor has it Google plans to launch the service within four months, so it should be interesting to see what happens. Stay tuned to TMCnet as information on the story progresses.
Stefanie Mosca is a Web editor for TMCnet. Previously she worked as a freelance copy editor for Digital Surgeons LLC. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University and a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of New Haven. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Tammy Wolf