Google could be testing a new payment system that favors Bluetooth over NFC


Nexus 7 Google Wallet 1

Google Wallet may not have become the most successful wireless payment solution to have spawned over the years, but Google’s desire to push it is responsible for many of our devices coming equipped with NFC. It’s funny how the circle of life works, though: new rumors suggest Google will explore Bluetooth as a vehicle for transmitting data about wireless transactions.

The Information reports Google is testing a new payment system named “Plaso.” Anyone who knows about Square Wallet will find it similar: you walk into a store and the cashier rings up your goods. Instead of swiping a credit card or having to tap your phone and authorize a payment, you simply tell the cashier the initials that the Plaso app will show.

Using Bluetooth, your credentials will automatically show up on the cashier’s device and they can confirm the transaction. Whatever payment source you have on file — likely whatever you have saved on Google Wallet — will be charged and you grab your things and go.

Specific details about the technology are scarce right now, but it sounds like there potentially won’t be a need to exchange currency or deal around with tapping, sliding and signing things. You might not even need to ever pull out your phone once you memorize whatever initials they give you (it’s not yet known whether they simply use the initials in your name or some automatically generated combination of letter or numbers).

It actually sounds like a much more convenient way of doing wireless transactions than NFC-based solutions, though we’re sure there are many obstacles to hurdle. The biggest, as with any wireless-based system, will be security, though that aspect wasn’t an issue for Square Wallet before it was shut down.

The second obstacle will be adoption, something Square wasn’t able to achieve and something Google struggled with in the early days of Google Wallet. It wasn’t until Apple Pay came along that many of the world’s popular retailers wanted in on mobile payments.

If participating retailers have to get specific equipment to support the technology then it will be an even bigger challenge for Google to overcome than their NFC-based solution was. We’ll have to hope more information will be dished out in due time, and keep our fingers crossed that Google come up with something that has potential to catch on.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. This sounds less secure than just using a PIN, which I am perfectly content to use.

    1. Also, NFC itself has a measure of security in that the range of communication is so narrow. Bluetooth can be hacked from afar.

      1. Exactly. One of the main security feature of NFC payment is the heavily limited range. Any hacker would need to be standing extremely close, but with bluetooth you can be well over 10m away.

  2. NFC has finally been adopted, no need to change now.

    1. Not yet. There are fewer places with it now, than before Apple Pay.

  3. Adoption is by far the biggest hurdle for new payment technologies. NFC is in place, just roll with it.

  4. going to push something this far and abandon it? I dont agree…I just started using it on my phone after being a bit on the uncomfy side. come on now!

  5. Surely now is the time to stick with NFC? Like it or not Apple Pay has pushed it in to the public consciousness and, astonishingly, the systems are compatible. Do they really think retailers will want another system?

    Before building another new payment system why not tell people about the one you already have, as Google wallet marketing is non existent.

  6. Google what are you doing? NFC via Apple Pay is really taking off. We don’t need yet another standard.

    1. No, it is not taking off. There are actually fewer places to use it now.

  7. I’m sorry but this does not sound more convenient than using NFC. With NFC you do not have to rely on the cashier to enter anything and it just charges your card.

    1. So maybe the credit card swiper screen would have a “Look for Plaso Device” button. It wouldn’t have to involve the cashier more than NFC. Not saying POS companies wouldn’t screw it up.

  8. I imagine you would still need to pull out your phone, using the same pin every time and announcing it would be completely unsecure, plus Bluetooth is still an energy hog compared to nfc. Now if only retailers would adopt nfc quicker

    1. You may not have to pull out your phone if you’re wearing a smart watch.

  9. I wanna call fake, but this is Google and they are notorious for trying new things before finishing others. It’s like they have ADD and can’t focus on a project till it’s complete before moving on to the next idea.

    1. u mean….the internet did not tell the truth? ;) i’m with you….ADD all day long

  10. Sounds like fun… but would need lots of stores to participate to be popular.

  11. “It wasn’t until Apple Pay came along that many of the world’s popular retailers wanted in on mobile payments.”

    Did I miss something? Apple Pay launched with the same retailers that were already accepting Wallet. Did some more get on board? And because of CurrentC you actually have less participating retailers. Not to mention at last report it appeared that there were still more people using Wallet than using Apple Pay.

    Is there some sort of unwritten rule about tech writers following the accepted hype of the day? I mean I know why some of the mainstream sites do it (their stock interests) but I’m trying to figure out why the Android sites do it. Do you believe it lends to your credibility by bowing to the hype so that you don’t appear to be haters?

    1. Thank you! Once my credit card jumped onto Wallet I used it for a bit and then retailers started dropping out once Apple Pay showed up. Now I never use it. If only my Google Wallet card could directly use my personal cards without having to prefill it

      1. Do you not have nfc on your phone? The physical Google wallet cards really only makes sense if you receive cash via Google wallet. If you are using nfc you can just use your personal credit cards with it. Who used to accept wallet and now doesn’t? I hadn’t heard any of that.

        1. “Once my credit card jumped onto Wallet I used it for a bit” so I obviously have NFC.

          A few CurrentC merchants. Target, CVS, and a few fast food restaurants come to mind.

          1. You are right for the most part. However, Target never accepted NFC payments

          2. Hmm, I thought they did. Maybe it was another retailer then. Thanks.

  12. Seriously. Who would ever consider this. This sounds either a) entirely too risky/insecure or b) convoluted. (Assuming b) imagine doing a bluetooth pairing like you do now but for every payment. I’d rather write checks.) and bluetooth for payments? 40+’ away and all you have to do is call out, out loud so everyone within a few feet can hear, a series of letters and such. No thanks. I know I dont know all of the details, but I dont think I’ll be convenced on this one.

  13. Ltes just try to forget nfc like a baaaad hangover. -google

  14. You guys are really missing the point of technology. You are on this website but complain about advancements. Smh. With Bluetooth payment systems you could use your smart watch or glasses to trigger payment and leave your phone in your pocket or purse. It also increase the range of communication. And with dwindling uses for NFC chips that space in your phone and associated software can be removed/replaced. I keep my Bluetooth on at all times. NFC is only turned on when I want to use it. Google is pushing the envelope and trying to give better /different options. I’m all for it.

    1. The downside of having BT on all the time is that the battery gets drained rather quick.

      1. Unless you have a really old or cheap smartphone, that is simply not true anymore. If BT killed the battery quickly, there wouldn’t be Android Wear, or other devices that connect to your phone via BT long term.

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