Google Wallet Chief's Resignation Another Bad Sign for NFC

The chief of the Google Wallet operation has resigned to pursue new opportunities, another sign of continuing troubles in convincing U.S. smartphone users to adopt mobile wallets using NFC technology.

By
Fri, May 10, 2013

Computerworld

NFC
The chief of the Google Wallet operation has resigned to pursue new opportunities, another sign of continuing troubles in convincing U.S. smartphone users to adopt mobile wallets using NFC technology.

In a statement on Wednesday, Googel said that Osama Bedier, vice president of wallet and payments, has decided to leave Google "this year to pursue other opportunities. He's achieved a lot during his time here and we wish him all the best in his next endeavor."

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Google pledged that it will continue support the move to mobile payments. "Payments are a big part of what people do every day, and we're committed to making them easier for everyone."

In a blog post, Yankee Group analyst Jordan McKee said the departure of Bedier is a sign of troubles Google has had in convincing users to use the payment technology.

"Bedier's exit is indicative of the troubles Google Wallet has been facing since its inception," McKee said. "Two years after launch, Google's initiative remains stagnant, failing to gain traction in the mobile payments ecosystem."

McKee said that consumers are dissatisfied with the mobile payment approaches underway in the U.S., but added that some problems are specific to Google Wallet. Over the past year, for example, other Google Wallet team executives "who were undoubtedly disappointed by the lackluster success of their project" have left the company, he said.

So far, Google Wallet is still only supported on several smartphones that are embedded with Near Field Communication, or NFC, technology from one major carrier, Sprint.

Isis, an effort by a consortium of AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA to use NFC phones, has stalled and will, along with Google Wallet, "remain stalled for quite some time," McKee said in an email to Computerworld..

McKee and other analysts cited an array of problems with NFC adoption in the U.S., though NFC-ready smartphones are widely used for transit and retail purchases in South Korea, Japan and some other countries.

While NFC chips are quickly being added to new smartphones, they remain absent from Apple's popular iPhone, analysts said. Another issue: Merchants haven't been willing to pay to upgrade sales terminals to accept NFC payments.

Even Bedier publicly admitted last October that despite widespread support for NFC from banks, wireless carriers and credit card companies, it will likely take three to five years for widespread U.S. adoption of NFC-ready smartphones and payment terminals.

Meanwhile, some retailers rely on QR codes to process payments and coupons with optical readers on smartphones. Starbucks has seen success with using its customer's optical readers on smartphones to read barcodes to pay for coffee with a Starbucks card.

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