Groupon enters the mobile payment arena

The Groupon logo is displayed in the lobby of the company's international headquarters on June 10, 2011 in Chicago, Ill.

If you're not intimately familiar with the term "mobile payments," get ready to start hearing it a lot more. Basically, it means "paying for something with a smartphone." Right now some of the big players are Google and a company called Square.

But today there's news Groupon is getting in on it.

The company has been having a hard time since it went public in November. Part of the problem is that it’s not growing as quickly as investors had expected and the online coupon place has gotten a lot more competitive and isn’t growing as quicly as it was. And so now the company needs to find more ways to bring in money and it’s going into mobile payments.

While the company may hope this will be a game-changer, Groupon is a little bit of a Johnny-come-lately. The dominate player in this space right now is Square, which is expected to ring up $8 billion in sales this month. Square also just closed a $200 milion round of funding, so it’s got tons of money. And in terms of innovation, it’s teamed up with Starbucks to move the mobile payments beyond just being able to proccess credit card payments, which it looks like where Groupon is starting.

Google, Square and Pay Pal are already in this mobile space, and lots of people think it’s just a matter of time before Apple joins in to up the stakes of the competition. On the other hand, unlike other folks entering the space, Groupon already has a huge sales force that’s dealing with retailers, so they may be poised to give Square a run for its money.

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

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