Yes, there will be a Google mobile payments system. It's now a matter of when, not if.
A week ago, BusinessWeekBloomberg said Google is building a payment and ad service consumers would use to buy goods from their Android handsets.
The service is powered by near field communications short-range wireless technology, which will let users buy products by tapping or waving their mobile phones against a register at checkout.
Some questioned whether Google might do this because it seems to stray from their normally laser-focused mobile ad designs and into mobile commerce.
Yet anyone whose been paying close attention to Googlezilla knows the company has been increasingly dabbling in commerce. Just look at its failed bid to buy Groupon, which is all about locally-driven commerce from desktops and mobile phones.
Heck, look at the Samsung Nexus S, whose biggest draw is Android 2.3 with native NFC support baked in.
"Internet products and technologies, and knowledge of one or more of the following: NFC/RFID technologies, different chipset ISO specifications, integration with POS readers & systems and payment processing, technical implementation of merchant loyalty, coupon or incentive programs."
There it is, plain as day: Google wants a mobile expert with NFC know-how, likely to work with the mobile payment tech guys who joined from the company's clandestine purchase of Zetawire last summer.
We the media feel these guys are responsible for the NFC capabilities in Android 2.3 (with a nod to NXP who provided software and a chip controller for the Nexus S).
These folks are likely working with Google's local engineers, which are led by Marissa Mayer and run Google Maps, Google Places, Hotpot and other cool technologies.
How will this all take shape in 2011?
Well, we would have an Android handset and get sent an alert from Google Places with the Hotpot engine recommending a local restaurant we've been mulling to try, or even a certain pair of jeans we've has been pondering online.
Google knows this through our searches and sends them via what Mayer calls "contextual discovery."
We go in and eat a meal or buy a product, paying for it with the NFC-enabled smartphone, such as the Nexus S.
My unanswered question in this scenario: does Google get a cut from the store proprietor the way Groupon gets a cut from coupons it hands out?
Or does it simply charge proprietors for transactions triggered by the contextual discovery alerts Google provides?
I realize I'm getting ahead of where the fantasy meets reality , but this stuff is fascinating to me. It's the Minority Report world, made flesh.