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NFC Forum Brings In Google & 31 Others

Sarah Thomas

The NFC Forum has added 32 new members to its roster, most notably signing up Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) as a Principal Member, in the bid to standardize mobile payments.

Near field communications (NFC) is a short-range wireless technology that has gained momentum of late as a way to complete contactless payments, obtain offers, scan loyalty cards or make other forms of mobile-enabled transactions. The NFC Forum was founded in 2004 to begin the process of certifying and standardizing this tech, a process Google, which included NFC in the Android Nexus S smartphone, is interested in seeing expedited.

The full list of new members is available here. Existing members Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and CSR plc (London: CSR) also raised their status to the Principal Level Thursday.

Why this matters
Being a Principal Member, the second-highest form of membership, allows Google to use its own in-house facilities to conduct NFC Forum certification testing, which, as NFC World explains, means that Google can operate under a veil of secrecy and doesn't have to expose its products to any third parties.

Google's moves to take ownership of the NFC market have heated up this year, including a reported partnership with MasterCard and Citigroup to embed the contactless technology in Android handsets, and a partnership with VeriFone Holdings Inc. to trial the service in select cities. Google's interest is in seeing ads targeted to a user's location or purchasing patterns take off, but its involvement in NFC is helping to move the entire ecosystem forward. (See CTIA 2011: Operators Avoid App Syndrome With NFC .)

NFC is also attracting the attention of wireless operators (via the Isis venture), as well as banks, major credit cards, third-party vendors and handset makers such as BlackBerry and Google's arch nemesis, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) -- a group that's creating a complex Web of partnerships and competing interests. (See OS Watch: RIM Battles Carriers for Mobile Money and Google, Apple Fight Carriers for Mobile Money.)

For more
The mobile wallet is growing as fat as the physical wallet. Check out the following stories for how it's stacking up.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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