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Google Wallet Enters For The Olympics

Google Wallet, the contactless mobile payment system, could reach London in time for the Olympics

On by Tom Jowitt 0

Google is reportedly preparing to launch Google Wallet in the UK in time for the Olympic Games in London next year.

Google Wallet, for those not in the know, is Google’s contactless mobile payment platform that allows for people to use their smartphones to swipe a scanner or terminal in order to purchase goods and services using Near Field Communications (NFC).

Payments are usually made by holding the smartphone up to a shop’s NFC terminal or receiver. This will not be a new experience for many Londoners, as Oyster cards use the same principle.

UK trial

According to French newspaper Les Echoes, Google is said to be negotiating with British retailers, distributors, and banks, so it can introduce the contactless payment system before the Olympics in the summer.

The newspaper said Google could be preparing to run trials in the UK as soon as the first quarter of 2012.

Google Wallet is already in operation in the United States, and the arrival of the technology in London could help many retailers deal with any currency issues or problems that foreign visitors to the games may encounter.

In February, British mobile operator O2 reportedly leapt aboard the mobile payments bandwagon, making an application to the Financial Services Authority for a licence to operate its own Near-Field Communications network.

That followed after Everything Everywhere – the combined entity of UK mobile operators Orange and T-Mobile – unveiled plans to roll out a mobile payments service, in collaboration with Barclaycard.

Make Or Break

This rush towards mobile payment systems is because many phones are now incorporating NFC chips. The first phone to boast the tech was the Samsung Nexus S, which appeared a year ago in December 2010, but NFC is now appearing in an increasing number of smartphones, including Android and Apple.

In December, industry analysts iSuppli predicted the use of mobile devices for payments would begin to take off in 2011, with 2012 being a ‘make or break’ year for the technology.

However, it may face a tough challenge, after research from Intersperience in October revealed significant concerns among British users about this technology. It found that consumers are concerned about the security implications of using mobile wallets, with phone-hacking fears a major concern.

Tom Jowitt
Author: Tom Jowitt
Freelance TechWeek Reporter
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