NFC kit manufacturer Ingenico has confirmed it is developing retail terminals for Google, but the search giant won't be running its own banking service just yet.
Ingenico told French journalists that Google wants (US) customers to be able to redeem coupons and discounts using an NFC-enabled phone, tapping it against the till to reduce the bill. For the moment that bill will have to be settled another way, though the terminals will support Google's payment mechanism when it comes.
Last month Google refused to confirm rumours that it was priming retailers in New York and San Francisco to receive free NFC terminals, despite Bloomberg having spoken to the retailers about the project. The assumption was that such terminals would be used for a Google-backed payment system, but now it seems that tokens and coupons are on the more immediate agenda for the search giant.
It has been assumed that the only way to make money from NFC was to replace cash, and some credit card use, with a secure alternative which is cheaper for retailers to process. Proving a benefit to the user has been harder, with companies limply suggesting that an NFC-equipped phone might automatically check ingredients for allergies, or that NFC payments are somehow more convenient than cash despite the obvious limitations.
However, Google is extremely good at making money. It's hard to imagine the margin made on coupons would cover the cost of providing free terminals to the shops, but Google has paid off bigger investments in the past, and if this one turns out to be too much to bear then the chocolate factory can always launch its own currency in a year or two. ®