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Will Google be your new credit card?

Mastercard and VISA certainly hope not, but Larry Page wants to be in your wallet. Well, not exactly–he wants to replace your wallet. Last month, when I talked about Google’s new strategy–we do everything–I mentioned that Google is working hard to unseat PayPal, the online payments leader, but I think that I undersold Google’s ambitions.  Google wants to be the leading form of payments anywhere, not just online.

So, how might they do that? Let me count the ways:

  • Near Field Communication (NFC) was in the Google phone and Google wants Android support for NFC chips to give it a leg up on using your phone to pay for things in physical stores. Who wouldn’t want to wave their phone at the cash register and be on their way?
  • Google Wallet is stalking eBay’s PayPal to take a piece out of the online payment market. eBay sued Google within hours of the Google Wallet announcement, so don’t think this will be a quiet fight.

Well, that wasn’t hard to count, right? Doesn’t sound too threatening–I mean MasterCard is even a partner on Google Wallet.

Well, look a bit closer. What is really going on here is that these are just a couple more data points in the Google orchestra of data. Google has Google Analytics and Google Checkout and Google Search and a dozen other properties that all work together to find out more and more about what people are buying and where.

English: First 4 digits of a credit card
Image via Wikipedia

What would stop Google from analyzing all these shopping patterns and launching Goo-pon? By looking at all this behavioral data, Google could provide shopping savings that we could all like:  saving money without the hassle. In fact, Google’s recent purchase of ITA must have sent shudders through the ranks of Travelocity and Expedia. Google is doing the same thing they do. Why couldn’t Google use all of the data they have collected to offer any discounts they want, because they know the price point to pitch each one? Information wins this game.

But information isn’t all that is needed. One area where NFC still lags is security. Reports of physical security being hacked (if you walk by someone, they might be able to charge your phone) and the different legal status of NFC–a fraudulent charge on your credit card won’t cost more than $50 in the U.S. by law–might both be impediments to wary consumers adopting NFC. Remember how long it took for consumers to be willing to enter credit card numbers online? There were far fewer real dangers there than for NFC.

So let’s return to the original question. Google wants to be your new credit card because it is its new source of growth. They’ll start with the easy stuff, but don’t be surprised if they are working to remove the middle-man at some point. Because Google doesn’t suffer its partners for very long.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is a Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also served as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He was a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research and is now a Senior Fellow of The Conference Board. A Certified Speaking Professional, Mike regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide

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