Report: Amazon next to jump on mobile payments bandwagon
Following the recent introductions of its Android mobile application storefront and Cloud Drive media storage solution, Amazon.com is reportedly targeting the booming mobile payments sector as its next step into the digital services realm. Citing two sources with knowledge of the project, Bloomberg reports Amazon is exploring a Near Field Communications-based service enabling consumers to purchase items at brick-and-mortar retailers by waving their smartphone in front of a point-of-sale reader unit. While the company's Amazon Payments unit is currently weighing its technological options, sources add that Amazon has not yet fully committed to launching a mobile payment platform, and will decide whether and when to roll out services during the next three to five months.
Amazon.com already offers a host of m-commerce applications including Amazon Deals for iPhone, Price Check by Amazon for iPhone and Amazon Windowshop for iPad, as well as solutions for Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 smartphones. In mid-2010, Amazon reported that consumers worldwide now order more than $1 billion in products via mobile device each year.
Should Amazon enter the mobile payments segment, it will square off against a growing field of competitors said to include Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Google is collaborating with financial services providers MasterCard and Citigroup to embed NFC payment technologies in Android smartphones. The proposed payment system will enable debit and credit cardholders to fund point-of-sale transactions at participating retailers, with Google supplying merchants with more insight into their customers and helping them target ads and discount offers. Google is not expected to claim a percentage of the resulting transaction fees but will instead generate revenue via advertising sales.
Prior to the Amazon.com report, Bloomberg stated Microsoft is at work to integrate NFC payment functionality into future smartphones running its Windows Phone 7 operating system, with devices possibly hitting retail by the end of 2011. Microsoft holds 14 patents referencing NFC, with the most recent awarded on March 22.
One confirmed entrant into the mobile payments derby: Isis, a nationwide mobile commerce network unveiled in November 2010 by Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA. Isis plans to introduce NFC payment services in key geographic markets within the next 18 months, partnering with Discover Financial Services to build the necessary mobile payment structure; the Discover payment network is accepted at over 7 million merchant locations nationwide. Isis adds that Barclaycard US is expected to be the first issuer on the network, offering multiple mobile payment products.
- read this Bloomberg article
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