Google Chief Eric Schmidt Endorses NFC

Nov 17 2010

There was little surprise at Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s announcement Monday that the next version of the company’s mobile operating system, Android, would support NFC.

NFC industry sources have expected the next Android specifications to support NFC, since a number of phone makers are planning Android models with NFC chips inside for 2011.

What was unexpected was that the Google chief would be carrying around an NFC-enabled Android smartphone, ready to talk about the technology’s benefits. Schmidt did just that when he pulled out an unidentified smartphone model at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. "This could replace your credit card," he was quoted as saying.

The new Android version, 2.3, dubbed Gingerbread, will be out in a few weeks, Schmidt said. Phones supporting the new version would also have to carry an NFC chip, of which many will not. Update: It was unclear, however, whether the NFC middleware specified in the new Android version was specific to chips from one vendor or would support all NFC chips. Rumors have it that the protocol stack and application programming interface or API, supports an NXP Semiconductors chip. Using NFC chips from other suppliers would require more development work. End Update.

It’s a matter of debate whether the phone Schmidt showed is one Google itself plans to introduce, though the CEO was at pains to say there would be no follow-up to the Nexus One Android phone Google tried unsuccessfully to market online earlier this year. Nonetheless, most of the handset bloggers writing about the interview believe the phone Schmidt held up was a Samsung model, calling it the "Nexus S," after Samsung's Galaxy S.

But such Android handset makers as HTC, LG Electronics, Samsung and Motorola are expected to introduce NFC Android models, in part in response to demand from U.S. mobile carriers planning to launch a new mobile-payment service. The Google chief also confirmed that the Web giant is working on applications for NFC, though declined to elaborate.

The enthusiastic endorsement of NFC by Schmidt is “huge news,” said Einar Rosenberg, chief technology officer for NFC application house Narian Technologies. It would be dwarfed, however, by news that Apple was planning to incorporate NFC in its next iPhone. There is no word yet on that.

But EE Times reported that Research in Motion’s co-CEO Jim Balsillie confirmed in a separate Web 2.0 session that at least some forthcoming BlackBerry handsets would support NFC. “We’d be fools not to use it,” he was quoted as saying.

There is increased demand for embedded secure chips in NFC phones, chip vendors have told NFC Times, and the speculation is that smartphone platform suppliers, such as Microsoft with its Windows Phone, Google, RIM and Apple, along with handset makers, such as Nokia, hope to have a say–and in some cases perhaps take a cut of proceeds–from some of the apps downloaded to the phones. RIM and Apple are both mobile platform and handset suppliers.

The control of the secure apps may or may not include payment. Schmidt said Google does not have any deals working with merchants for conducting payment from Android phones, according to the UK-based Telegraph. Google also does not exercise as much control over its apps and operating system as the other companies.

But Google does have a number of employees–by one estimate, 20–working on NFC mobile wallets and other applications, a source told NFC Times. The Web giant could enable payment by credit card companies or merchants or by network-based payment schemes while earning revenue through mobile advertising, say observers.

Article comments

pkrishna Nov 21 2010

Does anybody know the technology being used for the NFC - is it HF or UHF ?

Please register or login to post a comment.


Australian Transit Agency to Launch Mobility-as-a-Service Trial as It Pursues Long-Term MaaS Strategy

Plans by Transport for New South Wales, Australia’s largest transit agency, to launch a trial enabling users to plan, book and pay for multimodal rides is the next step toward the agency’s long-ter

Updated: U.S. Transit Agency Seeks to Reduce–Though Not Eliminate–Cash Acceptance with New Fare-Collection System

Updated: The Spokane Transit Authority in Washington state confirmed that its new fare-collection system will include contactless open-loop payments–with a beta test planned for next October, a spokesman told NFC Times' sister publication Mobility Payments.

UK Government Seeks to Bring London-Style Contactless Fare Payments System to Other Regions

The UK government’s plan to equip 700 rail stations over the next three years to accept contactless open-loop payments is a major initiative, as it seeks to replicate the success of London’s contactless pay-as-you go fare payments system elsewhere in the country–a goal that has proved elusive in the past.

More Cities in Finland Expected to Move to Open-Loop Fare Payments

A fourth city in Finland is beginning to roll out contactless open-loop payments, with “more in the pipeline,” according to one supplier on the project, making the Nordic country one of the latest hotspots for the technology.

Moscow Metro Expands Test of ‘Virtual Troika’ in Pays Wallets, as It Continues to Develop Digital-Payments Services

Moscow Metro is recruiting more users to test its “Virtual Troika” card in two NFC wallets, those supporting Google Pay and Samsung Pay, as one of the world’s largest subway operators continues to seek more ways for its customers to pay for rides.

Ohio Transit Agency Expects Significant Revenue Loss as it Builds Equity with Fare Capping

The Central Ohio Transit Authority, or COTA, officially launched its new digital-payments service Monday, including a fare-capping feature that the agency estimates will cost it $1.8 million per year in lost fare revenue, the agency confirmed to Mobility Payments.

Special Report: Interest Grows in ‘White-Label EMV’ for Closed-Loop Transit Cards

As more transit agencies introduce open-loop fare payments, interest is starting to grow in use of white-label EMV cards that agencies can issue in place of proprietary closed-loop cards for riders who don’t have bank cards or don’t want to use them to pay fares.

Swedish Transit Agency Launches Express Mode Feature for Apple Pay, though Most Ticketing Still with Barcode-Based App

Skånetrafiken, the transit agency serving one of Sweden’s largest counties, announced today it has expanded its contactless open-loop payments service to include the Express Mode feature for Apple Pay.

Major Bus Operators in Hong Kong Now Accepting Open-Loop Payments–Adding More Competition for Octopus

Two more bus operators in Hong Kong on Saturday launched acceptance of open-loop contactless fare payments, with both also accepting QR code-based mobile ticketing–as the near ubiquitous closed-loop Octopus card continues to see more competition.

Moscow Metro Launches Full Rollout of ‘Face Pay;’ Largest Biometric Payments Service of Its Kind

Touting it as the largest rollout of biometric payments in the world, Moscow Metro launched its high-profile “Face Pay” service Friday, as expected, and predicted that 10% to 15% would regularly us

Indonesian Capital Seeks to Expand to Multimodal Fare Collection and MaaS

Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, whose metropolitan area is home to more than 30 million people, is notorious for its stifling traffic congestion. In response, the government metro and light-rail networks and now it is funding an expansion of the fare-collection system to enable more multimodal payments and to build a mobility-as-a-service platform.

Exclusive: NFC Wallets Grow as Share of Contactless Fare Payments and Not Only Because of Covid

Transit agencies that have rolled out open-loop contactless payments are seeing growing use of NFC wallets to pay fares, as Covid-wary passengers see convenience in tapping their phones or wearables to pay.