Google love to change the game and with the launch of Google Wallet today, they've just upped the stakes again.
Basically, smartphones are equipped with a chip that allows them to send payment details to a special reader in situ at a store's till, in the back of a cab or wherever. Today's roll-out will focus on San Francisco and New York, though the system should work anywhere internationally where there is a Mastercard PayPass sign if the user has loaded prepaid card details on their phone.
Initially, Google has teamed up with CitiCard in the US so that customers can load their credit card details onto their phone and simply wave it at the reader or tap your phone when making a payment. Google also have a prepaid virtual card which you can top up online and in a nice touch are giving American early-adopters their first 10 bucks free.
Now it's a matter of Google announcing its banking partner in the UK and making sure you have a phone that's enabled – the iPhone 5 is supposed to be Google Wallet ready.
So contactless payment technology moves a step further. I hope it proves a bit more successful than the current version that's been around for a while where payment is supposedly deducted from a debit card simply waved above a card reader at the till. Though one large upscale sandwich shop has had these installed for some time now I have never seen them work successfully.
Oh, well, there are always a few kinks that need straightening out so maybe Google Wallet has learned some lessons from this flop.
The developers now hope the same technology will widen its use for things like tickets, boarding passes and even security keys. It's exciting news though tinged with a little trepidation and one big red warning that will become ever more important as things go on.
Do not, I repeat, do not lose your phone!