The mobile payments world is expanding like wildfire and Coke and Google are on top of the list. It is already known that Google wants you to have your money with them. They stated it at the last part of 2010 when they introduced Android 2.3 with NFC features.
With a gleeful announcement, Google wants you to use smartphones that have their Android mobile operating system on them. HTC, Samsung, Motorola and others use this google semi-open software on their smartphones with good success. In fact, Motorola needed some help selling their mobile wares enough for Google to go ahead and buy them out. The Android version that supports NFC ( Near Field Communication ) is in many of these models, but not all are equipped with the NFC chip to make it work.
Coke and Pepsi vending machines are already socialized to the point where you can buy a drink from a vending machine for your friends. All you need is their name, cell number and the vending machine will send them a text and a code telling them to pick up their free drink. It is even possible to send a drink to a stranger. Pepsi has their “Random acts of refreshment” program to do this now. Coke wants to up the ante, but only in Europe.
This involves the aforementioned NFC type of mobile payment. If a smartphone is equipped with this chip inside ( similar to an RFID chip ) all a smartphone owner needs to do is bump it against a Coke vending machine to make a payment. The bill will be sent to their cell carrier and paid for when they pay for their monthly mobile service. Cell carriers would love to get into the bill payments service business. This new convenience provided by Coke, Google and mobile companies should prove to be popular.
As physical money gets scarce, more people are no doubt going to need to use their cell phone to make payments. The world already has a majority of its people using a cell phone. Currently just over 5.2 billion mobile accounts are active in the world. That is 75 percent of the world’s population. Those who get in early to this mobile payments market will get the lion’s share of the profits. Coke looks like they are taking the initiative. With this dynamism, both Google and Coke will have access to your “mobile wallet”. Here is hoping they remember privacy is important. Did I hear you say, “Good luck on that.”?
NFC is similar to RFID in that a signal is sent out over the airwaves, similar to a radio with an antenna. The signal does not go very far, but nevertheless, it goes far enough to reach the inside of a Coke vending machine. The “bump” is for the two to tell the exact time when the transaction takes place. When it comes to convenience, a QR code would be just as easy, if not easier to use. All the user would need to do is scan the QR code and make the payment, not sending any information out over the airwaves. Look for the Coke initiative to take hold next year during the 2012 Olympics. Other mobile players will also be there, like Samsung and Visa.