Buh-Bye Credit Cards: Near Field Communications Will Let You Pay By Phone.

According to RWW, Google announced yesterday that the next version of Android (Gingerbread) will include native support for Near Field Communications (NFC).  NFC, according to available definitions:

…is a wireless technology that allows data to be exchanged between two different devices — say, a credit card or a cell phone and a credit card terminal — from a short distance away. If your phone has NFC, you can hold it near a terminal. The phone and the terminal communicate, and the terminal communicates with a remote computer to approve payment.

Apparently, credit card companies think that this technology is more secure than credit cards. I suppose it could be.  It’s also putting a lot into your phone, and that tends to make people a little squeamish.  Google, God bless that amazing company, has a ridiculous amount of information on me.  I use Google docs, Gmail, Google apps and I plan to switch this month from Blackberry to an Android phone (Sorry, RIM.  I love you but your browser is terrible).  If I were to let it,  I could easily become paranoid about laying this much information into one company….but I’m not going to worry about it.

So, how does this change things for us?  My guess is that in five years, most of us won’t be swiping credit cards anymore.  Why not faster?  Well,  in order for you to “bump” your phone to charge a payment,  I imagine you’ll need a receiving system that is willing to accept the bump.  I don’t see most companies getting rid of swipe machines in lieu of NFC-enabled  terminals until they absolutely have to.  That means that until current technology fades,  we’ll still have to pull out our Visa cards at most locations.

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SCVNGR Goes Global, 8 People Care…For Now

I read a RWW article this morning on SCAVNGR launching it’s platform internaitonally and integrating with Google Maps (SCVNGR Goes Global and Becomes the First Service to Use Google’s Places API) and a few thoughts crossed my mind.  I generally use this blog for organizing thoughts,  so it seems like a good place to hash through some of them.

Google and Mobile

The article is not particularly interesting because SCAVNGR is not particularly interesting, it’s a Foursquare copycat.  You’re wondering why you’ve read this far.   Well, SCAVNGR  is part of the the Google Ventures portfolio and is now utilizing the google Places API, and this is really interesting.  Google Places will not become Wave or Buzz;  I believe that it has the potential to drive more revenue for the search giant than anything else in the pipeline.

All of these check-in services (SCAVNGR, Foursquare, Gowalla, etc.) are clamoring for local advertising and coupon business; a market that may exceed $1 Billion in annual expenditures by 2012 assuming that smartphone penetration hits 50% as projected, and that smartphone users are all worth some nominal amount of local search through mobile (292.8 M wireless subscribers, 50% smartphone users,  $5 in annual coupon each = $730 million)

Google, with the Android platform, is poised to become one of the leading players in this space if it can put to local search what it has managed to do with web search.  I also predict that Android will become the mobile operating system in the next two years.

Gaming Mechanics and Coupons Are Vastly Different

Back to the coupon aspect of the mobile industry, I think the problem with “gaming-mechanics” and these services is that they’re not transactional enough,  in the sense that they generally don’t solve a problem or provide users with enough immediate value.   If I want a coupon or a deal, I want that coupon or deal.  I don’t want to check-in and brag about being at the grocery store (I just want $1 off Cheerios).   I would leave the social context work to Facebook who will undoubtedly win the connect with friends at aplaces” war with everyone, based simply on the amount of users they have.

Where Facebook won’t win is in deals.  Again,  I don’t need to connect with friends to get a coupon. Mothers (heads of household purchasing in the U.S.) don’t need to let everyone on Facebook know that they’re buying diapers, or Tide., or back-to school clothes for the kids.  Shopping is not always a social endeavor, especially when it comes to coupons.  This non-social shopping environment is where all of the giant piles of money live.