A recently published patent is causing significant speculation that Google may be entering the mobile payment space with a simple system that utilizes SMS messages to effectuate mobile payment transactions. Coverage of the patent can be found at SEOptimize, as well as at Ars Technica. The full patent application is here.
Much of the coverage suggests this application might part of the build up to a ‘GPhone’. However, I’m skeptical. With the entry of everyone from Bank of America to Paypal into mobile banking, it seems only logical that someone at Google would seek to establish a presence in this emerging market. The claims in the patent application make little to no reference to an application - refering simply to SMS messaging - suggesting this patent application may be independent of any GPhone that Google may be contemplating.
In either case, Google’s work in the mobile payment space continues to validate the emergence of mobile payments as a potentially mainstream application. While I feel there may yet be identity and other security issues that must be addressed, such a system could significantly lower the overhead small business owners face in processing credit and debit card payments today.