Amazon is mulling rolling out a digital payments service that would integrate with near field communications (NFC) technologies that would allow shoppers to use their smartphones and Amazon’s payment services to pay for goods in physical stores. The claim was made by two people “familiar with the matter” to Bloomberg.
NFC would allow customers to wave their phones in front of compatible cash registers to pay for goods, rather than reach for their wallets and swipe a credit card. Given Amazon’s 1-Click payment system, which can be seen as an alternative to Google Checkout or PayPal, an NFC-equipped phone could be tied to an Amazon account, which would be used to process the purchase transaction.
Amazon’s rumored foray into the emerging and burgeoning mobile payments market would place the online retailer at direct competition with Google, which itself is mulling a similar offering. The Android-maker has worked with Samsung in creating the Nexus S smartphone, which is among the first to come with NFC support. Nokia may be another big player, and combined with the powers of Microsoft for the Windows Phone 7 platform, we can expect to see more devices with NFC support coming from both camps. The T-Mobile Nokia Astound is launching with an NFC chip built-in, but Nokia didn’t package any applications or support for the technology at the device’s launch according to Jeb Brilliant of A Brilliant Blog. Research in Motion‘s upcoming BlackBerry devices may be coming with NFC support.
In addition to platforms and device makers, carriers and financial institutions are also eying the market for mobile payments of physical goods. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have created a consortium called Isis to tackle that market. PayPal, MasterCard, Bank of America, and Visa are all looking at the market to name a few big players.
Given Amazon’s Android attack with the recent launch of the Amazon Appstore for Android, the Android OS could be seen as a potential launching pad for Amazon’s NFC efforts as Google’s platform is among the most open.