AT&T to Launch M-Commerce App; Google Expands NFC Check-ins

Apr 19, 2011 — Allan Pulga

As near field communication (NFC) technology makes its way to more and more smartphones, AT&T isn’t convinced the average consumer is quite ready to adopt the technology for making m-commerce payments. As a result, the company is launching an m-commerce app of its own, for consumers to use in the meantime.

Think of it as NFC payment on training wheels.

“The application, created completely by AT&T in-house, allows consumers to enter specific digits on the phone’s keypad to make a payment with a specific retailer,” wrote Laurie Sullivan of MediaPost.com (April 14). “It works similar to a swipe of a gift card or Starbucks coffee card. The mobile application shows the account balance, additions and subtractions. Consumers can add funds into the mobile application through a web portal or on the phone.”

Rob Russell, director of global marketing solutions at AT&T, calls the application “a stored value gift card with loyalty” features, but declined to identify how the app will be branded.

I would argue that using an app like this –- which would require you to pay for credit at the store before going into it –- won’t enjoy mainstream adoption either. The whole advantage to NFC payment via smartphone is that instead of having to swipe a credit or debit card, or even take cash out of your wallet, all you have to do is scan your phone.

Using this AT&T app does not offer that type of convenience. In fact, it seems less convenient than everyday (cash, credit or debit) payment options. Grade: F.

Google Expands NFC Check-ins

On the topic of NFC technology, after a successful trial run in Portland, Google is expanding its NFC check-in program to four new cities, reported Terrence O’Brien of Engadget.com (April 14).

“(Google is) slapping RFID “Recommended on Google” stickers on windows in Las Vegas; Madison, Wis.; Charlotte, NC; and Austin, Texas,” he wrote. “The company wants to be the best in the location-based service market, and NFC is its crane kick.

“While Foursquare and Facebook users are forced to do silly things like track down the right business in an endless list of nearby results or try and focus their cellphone’s camera on a dimly lit QR code, you could simply be swiping over a sticker, scoring discounts and moving on.”

Now, THAT’s convenient. Grade: A+.

Topics: Retail Operations, Wireless Trends, Mobile Industry

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