Google’s mobile payment offering, Google Wallet, will face fresh competition in the mobile payment space with reports that Sprint, the only operator that pre-installs the service on its devices, is planning to launch an NFC payment service of its own. The reports cast doubt over the future of Google and Sprint’s partnership, even as the internet giant is rumoured to be working on the second iteration of Google Wallet. Sprint’s service will come as a fresh blow for Google Wallet, which is yet to make a significant impact on the payments market after failing to win deals with the major US mobile operators, Verizon and AT&T.
According to NFC Times, Sprint is currently in talks with banks and service providers to roll out its product, dubbed Touch, to the market. Although few details are known about the service, Sprint has reportedly enlisted the services of NFC firm Sequent Software to work on the project, indicating that Touch will rely on the much-hyped near field communication (NFC) technology. While NFC adoption continues to climb, so do the number of rival products on the market and Touch will face steep competition in the shape of ISIS, the join payment consortium established by rival carriers AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, as well as a raft of dedicated services such as PayPal and Square.
The next version of Google Wallet is expected to focus more heavily on the cloud and put more of an emphasis on offers and promotions. According to NFC Times sources, however, security limitations on the NFC chips that power payment services mean that Sprint will be unable to support both mobile wallets, suggesting that Google could soon have no carriers supporting its product. Although the firm has signed up payment companies such as MasterCard to Google Wallet, without carriers to deliver the product Google Wallet is looking increasingly isolated in the space.
Mobile payment continues to become more mainstream, with more than one in four consumers in the US and Western Europe forecast to be paying for goods in-store using NFC-enabled handsets by 2017. This compares to around 2% of consumers in these regions currently estimated to be using NFC services by Juniper. Meanwhile, some 100 million NFC-enabled smartphones are expected to be sold this year, according to research from Berg Insight in March, more than three times the 30 million units sold in 2011. Overall, global mobile payments revenues are expected to top USD171.5 billion this year, according to Gartner.