With Google Wallet rolling-out this summer, many of us with NFC-equipped Androids are about to get our first taste of using NFC to conduct mobile transactions. Google won’t be the only game in town, and today we learned it will have a new competitor in the form of PayPal, which revealed its plans to release its own NFC payment app in late summer.
The way the system will work, you type in the amount of money you’d like to be paid, then tap NFC-enabled phones with the person you’re requesting the money from. They’ll see a notification of the request pop-up on their smartphone, then can enter in their PIN to authorize the transaction.
It sounds simple and easy enough, but what’s NFC really doing here? All the authorization goes through PayPal’s servers, along with records of the funds you request. When it comes down to it, the only thing it looks like NFC does is save the payer from having to type in the payee’s email address. That’s fine, and it seems like a sensible use of the technology, but it makes PayPal’s claim that this is a “peer-to-peer” payment system a bit disingenuous; it’s no BitCoin, after all, and PayPal’s payment infrastructure remains as centralized as ever. A peer-to-peer payment would be handing your friend cash or bearer bonds – this is calling up the bank and asking it to transfer funds to his account.