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Google and Coca-Cola test mobile payments

Two industry giants—albeit in very different industries—have teamed up to trial a smartphone-based payment system. As reported by ANidea, a Coca-Cola pilot scheme has seen over 200 vending machines kitted out with interactive digital displays that enable users to 'spin' a bottle to see nutritional information and then pay for a product using an NFC-enabled Android phone.

The article's author, AgencyNet's Jesse Brightman, argued that the team-up suggests Coca-Cola is "driving innovation and sales by designing their machines to fulfil the need of payment accessibility through mobile and credit card payments", reducing the need for physical currency, and providing the means for Coca-Cola and its advertisers to more easily tailor local content.

We spoke to Brightman and asked him what the Google/Coca-Cola partnership means for the future of mobile payments. "NFC is the future of payments. This is just one step towards a future where physical currency is history," he affirmed. "Additionally, NFC and mobile payments go beyond the realm of transactions. NFC needs to provide value to merchants as well as consumers in order to prove its worth. This will change the landscape in a big way once NFC-enabled devices also enable loyalty program-like characteristics which will give merchants valuable marketing and consumer data. And on the flipside, this will give consumers tangible value, like free products, discounts or gold-member status."

Brightman told us this "value exchange" will work for a number of industries, but until it's more mainstream, smaller companies will benefit most, due to their quick transaction rates and potential for repeat and regular customers: "The big takeaway is this: a product like Google Wallet is not just a catchy name. It's the first big step towards getting rid of physical currency, loyalty cards, IDs, and—eventually—a wallet."