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Google to launch NFC payments trial?

Android Market will support in-app billing

Google is rumoured to be planning NFC mobile payments trials in New York and San Francisco. Bloomberg has reported that sources familiar with the project say the trials will begin in the next four months and that Google will pay for the installation of “thousands” of custom-built NFC-enabled Verifone terminals at merchants across both cities. It is speculated that Google’s Nexus S smartphone – the first Android device to ship with built-in NFC functionality – will play a key role in the trial. Google has so far declined to comment.

The rumours follow on the back of Google’s recent launch of NFC-enabled marketing in Las Vegas, Portland and Austin, which allows users to swipe their NFC-enabled smartphones against a merchant-displayed sticker to access tourist/business information or special offers. The service works in conjunction with the Google Places and Hotpot applications, which allows users to recommend and rate businesses and tourist attractions while allowing businesses to use customised Google kits from the Google Places catalogue to encourage customer participation.

The rumours about the latest trials have given rise to speculation that users will have coupons, gift-and-loyalty cards and subscriptions loaded onto their devices in addition to the usual purchasing information.

Earlier this month, Google updated its Android Developers Guide to include a section dedicated to NFC. In addition to offering developers an overview of the technology and API, the guide includes sections on reading/writing NFC tags and peer-to-peer data exchange.

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