With Google Wallet initially working exclusively on Sprint's network, Verizon has decided to strike a deal with a company called Payfone to make its own mobile payment service.
Neither Verizon nor Payfone offered many details about the platform they're collaborating on and only said that the service would "allow Verizon Wireless customers to make online purchases from their smartphones, tablets and PCs using numerous payment methods, including charging purchases to their monthly wireless statements or using traditional payment methods through financial institution partners." Unlike Google Wallet, the Payfone system works only for online payments and cannot utilize near-field communications (NFC) technology to send very short-range signals to nearby NFC tags to complete payments.
Payfone is a New York-based mobile commerce company that partners with American Express to power its digital payment platform.
Verizon's Payfone announcement comes less than a month after Google announced that its new NFC-based Google Wallet service would get its debut on the Nexus S 4G smartphone, which runs exclusively on Sprint's network. Google says that it plans to run Google Wallet on the Nexus for a trial run before slowly expanding it out to other Android-based mobile devices. The company first built NFC support into Android late last year when it released its Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread") update.
Verizon's agreement with Payfone isn't its first foray into the realm of mobile payments. Last year the company announced that it was teaming up with rivals AT&T and T-Mobile to build a mobile commercial payment network that will let customers use smartphones as credit cards. Dubbed Isis, the proposed system will use near-field communication technology to send encrypted data from smartphones to payment processors. The system will only be able to send payments over a short distance and the carriers say it is "being designed and built to include strong security and privacy safeguards." The carriers expect that Isis will come online sometime within the next year.
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