Google recently acquired Zetawire, a Canadian startup focusing on mobile payments transactions. Zetawire has been awarded a patent and corresponding trademark by the US Patent and Trademark office. According to the filing, the patent provides for mobile banking, advertising, identity management, credit card and mobile coupon transaction processing. These features would allow a consumer to make purchases using their smartphone instead of their credit card. The patent Zetawire has acquired is a valuable asset to Google.
This acquisition strengthens Google’s position in the coming wave of near field communications (NFC) and the phone as a device for payments, tracking and identification. Google recently released its Nexus smartphone, which has built-in NFC capabilities. This could go a long way to allow users to make purchases using the smartphone (Nexus) instead of credit cards . In the meantime, Google’s competitors are hard at work. Research in Motion has also filed a patent for NFC functions, and Nokia in June announced that all of its phones will have NFC capabilities by 2011. Isis, a partnership involving telcos AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, is also planning a similar mobile wallet and UK startup Proxama has been working on NFC-focused technology for payments and advertising.