Visa to Bank on Google Android
The embers that stoked T-Mobile's G1 fire may be smoldering from a lackluster launch, but Android is still red hot.
Visa Sept. 25 agreed to build mobile applications that work with smart phones that run on Google's Android mobile operating system.
The announcement comes two days after T-Mobile formally unveiled the G1, the first smart phone based on Android. The G1 will be available Oct. 22, but you can check out some of the launch here in this video.
Available first to Chase Visa cardholders by the end of 2008, the Web services will send alerts about transaction activity on accounts to customers' mobile devices, as well as receive offers from various merchants.
The Visa mobile apps will also leverage Google's location-based technology to find local merchants where customers can redeem Visa offers and find ATMs that accept Visa.
Visa is also developing a payment application that will let Visa consumers make mobile payments in retail stores, or on the go, over wireless networks.
While I appreciate what is clearly a move by Visa to modernize its payment services, I don't think Visa needs to put a rush on this application. Does anyone really believe the United States is ready for mobile payment services?
Despite the popularity of the multimillion-unit selling iPhone from Apple and the hype swirling around Google's entrance into the mobile operating system market with Android, the United States isn't ready for mobile payment systems.
While mobile payments may be huge in Japan and picking up speed in Europe, most U.S. citizens don't even have a smart phone that would enable these types of complex, transactional Web services.
But I give Visa credit for being a trailblazer and certainly applaud it for tapping Google's Linux-based OS. Android needs all the support from top-line businesses it can get for validation and, ultimately, mass adoption.
It's not easy for any new mobile OS to gain traction, particularly when it's an open-source platform that does not have any one entity providing a tight rein on development.
Individual programmers ceding mobile apps to the Android Market is nice, but see the Visa endorsement as the first in what should be many for Android by big players going forward.