Google Confirms Mobile Network and Payment Plans

sundar_pichai_headshotSundar Pichai, senior vice president of products for Google, has confirmed that the search giant is in talks to launch a mobile network within the next few months, and that a new mobile payments API will be built into future Android operating systems.

Google Goes MVNO?

Pichai, speaking during a keynote address at the Mobile World Congress, addressed speculation that Google would partner with mobile networks to provide a hybrid service across cellular and wi-fi networks.

“We dont intend to be a network operation at scale,” said Pichai. “We are working with carrier partners. Youll see our answer in coming months. Our goal is to drive a set of innovations we think should arrive, but do it on a smaller scalle, like Nexus devices, so people will see what were doing.”

According to CNET, Pichai clarified that any service will not be intended as a competitor to the existing mobile networks, but more as a format for Google to drive innovation across both hardware and software.

Googles Nexus line of mobile devices has seen the company attempt to present a pure Android experience, with hardware makers forbidden from making alterations to the user interface atop the Android OS, or including preloaded custom apps. Google has worked with a variety of manufacturers on the project, including Motorola and HTC, and the initiative has been praised for a consistency that many other Android device lines lack.

While Google may not intend for a mobile network version of Nexus to compete with larger operators, it is likely it will disrupt the market. The firms Google Fiber project, which provides superfast internet to customers in selected markets, has forced traditional broadband companies to increase their speeds and cut costs, and it is likely a mobile network could have much the same effect.

Android Pay

Pichai also used his keynote address to discuss Android Pay, a mobile payments framework that will enable developers to build apps based on its API, neatly sidestepping the issue of competing with Apple Pay.

Where Google Wallet has failed to catch the publics imagination, Android Pay will play it safe by providing third-party developers with a way to store payment information locally and securely, and letting them carry out the legwork of constructing apps and marketing to an increasingly crowded marketplace.

According to TechCrunch, the system will tokenise card numbers in the same manner that Apple Pay and Samsung Pay do, meaning each transaction generates a one-time payment token to be transmitted to the receiving terminal, rather than the users credit card information.

The system will support contactless NFC transmission, as well as biometric authentication via hardware, such as the Samsung Galaxy S6s fingerprint scanner. According to Pichai, the solution isnt intended to compete with Samsungs offering (or Apples), but to give consumers choice when it comes to mobile payment services.

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