During a recent presentation at the Electronic Transaction Association's tradeshow in Las Vegas, Google Wallet chief Ariel Bardin conceded that customers have been slow to embrace the company's mobile payments service. However, he said that Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) plans to remain in the mobile payments space for the long haul, and will continue to tweak the technology in hopes it will take off.
"We have been doing this for a while," Bardin said, according to a report on his presentation from CNET. "And we'll continue to keep doing this for a long while."
Bardin said that, when Google launched Wallet three years ago, it relied on hardware-based NFC technology and one carrier--Sprint--to push consumer adoption. The setup dramatically limited the offering's addressable customer base--indeed, a year after launch, it only supported one credit card and bank combination.
"We still do that, but now we offer many different types of payments and services," Bardin explained, according to CNET.
Bardin said that Google has since moved from a hardware-based, NFC-powered solution to one that also works in the cloud via HCE technology. The result, Bardin said, is a system that can support a wide range of banks, cards and vendors.
"Now anyone in the audience could build an app that leverages the tap-and-pay functionality," Bardin said.
Indeed, HCE technology has recently been embraced by Visa and MasterCard as a more flexible alternative to hardware-based implementations of NFC mobile payments technologies. Even Isis, the hardware-based mobile payments joint venture from AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS), has indicated it could be open to using HCE technology with NFC.
However, Google still faces opposition from retailers that don't want the company's Wallet service coming between them and their customers. According to an article in Mobile Commerce Daily, retailers are either dropping support for NFC altogether (as 7-Eleven and Best Buy have done) or are moving to their own payment systems (like Starbucks and the companies behind the Merchant Customer Exchange effort).
"Larger merchants, and especially tier one merchants, want Google nowhere near their transaction data," Yankee Group analyst Jordan McKee told Mobile Commerce Daily. "They also view Google as a social intermediary, an entity that is coming in between their brand and the customer. The fear is that brand engagement will be diluted."
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