Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Google says no plans to drive NFC phones via Motorola

By Nick Wood , Total Telecom, in Singapore
Wednesday 20 June 12

Payment security firm says 'huge gap' must be bridged in order to establish contactless m-payment sector.

Google on Wednesday said it currently has no plans to leverage recently-acquired Motorola Mobility to accelerate the integration of NFC technology and smartphones. Speaking at CommunicAsia in Singapore, Google's APAC country sales director Kit Wong said his company's ambition is to "close the loop on mobile payments" by moving beyond influencing point…

Google on Wednesday said it currently has no plans to leverage recently-acquired Motorola Mobility to accelerate the integration of NFC technology and smartphones.

Speaking at CommunicAsia in Singapore, Google's APAC country sales director Kit Wong said his company's ambition is to "close the loop on mobile payments" by moving beyond influencing point-of-sales behaviour – which it currently does by dint of providing search results – to enabling users to take the next step and make a purchase. With its Google Wallet service it has taken the view that NFC will become a widely adopted contactless payment mechanism and is keen to foster an ecosystem that will drive adoption of the technology.

"This is how we see this loop closing," said Wong.

He admitted though that there are a number of hurdles to overcome, such as complying with different local regulations in various countries, carving a share in markets that already have mobile wallet services, and getting terminals into the hands of merchants and end users.

However, it seems Google's plans for surmounting the final hurdle do not involve intervening in Motorola's strategy.

"[Motorola] is kept pretty separate," said Wong.

Indeed, Google made no secret of the fact that the primary motivation behind its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola last August was its treasure trove of patents, rather than any pressing desire to develop its own range of handsets.

According to NFC World, which maintains a list of globally available and publicly announced NFC phones, Motorola had just two on the market as of 20 June: the Droid Razr and a rugged Windows Mobile 6 handset. Incidentally, NFC is not listed on the Droid Razr's specification, but a teardown carried out by Engadget revealed an NFC controller chip. In terms of upcoming smartphones, Motorola has yet to publicly announce another NFC-capable device.

By comparison, the world's biggest smartphone maker Samsung has 12 on sale today and has publicly unveiled a further three. LG has five available and has announced six more. HTC has three NFC handsets on the market and has announced another three.

Despite the push for NFC integration coming from some quarters, the lack of mass-market penetration of NFC handsets represents a major hurdle to budding mobile wallet schemes, according to payment and ID card specialist Datacard.

"Most of the phones [in the world] are not smartphones, and most of the smartphones are not NFC-capable," said Richard Besenbruch, marketing and business development director at Datacard's ID solutions division. "There is a huge gap we have to bridge."

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