The idea of near field communications (NFC) as a means of making payments has been around for a while. It's already very popular in Europe and other parts of the world. But this is the first major commercial implementation here in the United States. Under Google's system, you connect your phone with a bank account or credit card account, then when it's time to pay, you just bump and go.
Google Wallet is starting off pretty slow. Right now, it's being tested in New York and San Francisco but with plans to expand to more cities over the course of the summer. And right now, it only works on one model of phone, the Nexus S, and only if you are on Sprint. So no, not exactly universal just yet. But there are big plans to steadily introduce new phones that can handle the feature and bring new networks on board. At the same time, the networks that are not Sprint -- namely AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon -- are working on a big new project called ISIS that will do much the same thing.
Following the launch, eBay filed a lawsuit against Google. Two former executives at eBay's mobile payment unit, PayPal, now work for Google and led this project. The suit claims that those executives stole trade secrets from their former employer.
We get a rundown on Google's service from Sam Gustin, a staff writer for Wired.com who was at the event. He tells us how it works and why you should not be afraid that just walking through a Starbucks won't automatically mean that you'll accidentally pay for everyone's latte.
We also talk to Nick Holland, a senior analyst with the Yankee Group. He thinks that the big breakthrough for Google will be that the phone can be a repository for loyalty programs at different stores, coupons, and special offers. In exchange, Google will want to be able to record and track your purchases, this being valuable customer data. As for whether people will adopt NFC technology, it may come down to whether customers are willing to make that trade or whether they just prefer to use a plastic credit card.
Also in this show, new malware is lurking for Mac owners. It's disguised as programs to get rid of malware. A highly ironic security threat.