Google readies Android NFC for data gathering

The all encompassing Google, known for its “accidental” data collecting, is getting cosy with MasterCard and Citigroup. Together the trio have come up with technology which will allow customers to use their Android mobile phones to buy items by waving their smartphones in front of a small reader at the checkout counter.

According to the WSJ the scheme would start with holders of Citigroup-issued debit and credit cards being able to use the service by activating a mobile payment application developed for one current handset.

Google has also said that it will not take a cut of any of the transaction fees. Instead, Google will be using NFC to boost its advertising business.

Sources told the Wall Street Journal that Google would use the technology as a way to offer retailers more data about their customers. This will help it target ads to mobile-device users near their stores.

Sounds rather like data harvesting.

Privacy advocate Big Brother Watch has its concerns. Daniel Hamilton, director, told TechEye: “Allowing people to pay for goods with their mobile phones would be an interesting step forward in development of contactless payment systems.

 “While there are clear advantages for consumers in using such systems in terms of both ease and speed, it is important that retailers are straight with their customers about exactly how their data will be used.

“Contactless payment systems should be about customer convenience, not targeting advertising at unsuspecting consumers without the prior knowledge and expressed permission,” he added.

A Google spokesperson told TechEye that it doesn’t comment on rumour or speculation.