Android devices to include an electronic wallet

Android devices to include an electronic wallet

Speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit Conference in San Francisco, California, Google CEO Eric Schmidt announced the newest version of the Android mobile operating system will include a new electronic wallet system.

Android 2.3, which has been codenamed Gingerbread, will feature mobile wallet technology based around near field communications. Schmidt showed off the NFC-based system by using it to launch Google Maps, locate the Summit Conference, then use the NFC chip to connect with a conference sign and register his attendance.

According to Schmidt, credit card companies are interested in NFC technology as a way to prevent fraud. Banks and other financial institutions have used NFC in credit and debit cards, easing customer use and facilitating security. Schmidt expects the mobile NFC technology to simply add another payment channel for mcommerce and traditional marketplace users. He does not anticipate Android's NFC compatibility to replace credit or debit cards anytime in the foreseeable future.

Schmidt also expects mcommerce technology to grow beyond NFC and point-of-sale payments. Over time, consumers will opt for programs that give certain merchants basic information on their shopping preferences, allowing the organization to contact them with special deals and promotions, Schmidt said. Essentially, when a user enters a store, the NFC device can be tracked by the retailer, with the shopper's permission, and the store can send a text, video or picture message featuring a coupon, gift card or other promotional material.

Information linking individuals to family and friends could also provide an opportunity for business growth, according to Schmidt. While social data is currently locked up in Facebook, Schmidt believes businesses could safely use that information to target consumers with specific information pertaining to themselves, friends and family, making the shopping experience easier and more enjoyable. Essentially, mcommerce and NFC technology could be used to help shoppers efficiently manage their time to find the best items for themselves or anybody else they may shop for.

Android is not the only mobile operating system working to implement NFC and electronic wallet into its software. The Apple iPhone 5 is also expected to use NFC technology. Apple's NFC deployment will have two primary functions - It will allow users to employ mobile wallet systems, fostering secure payments. It will also facilitate synchronization with other Apple devices within the vicinity.