With the recent announcements last week that Apple and Google each are launching content subscription services, it's easy to forget that there are other players in the mobile payments arena. One of them is an alliance of almost 800 carriers working to develop a standardized mobile-payments system based on Near Field Communications Technology, which allows customer data to be transferred by swiping a smartphone at an NFC payment terminal. (Also see: Google outmaneuvers Apple in content subscription play) Mobiledia reports that the GSM Association (GSMA), founded in the mid-'90s, hopes to launch NFC services in "select markets" next year. GSMA said it will develop mobile payment standards to ensure worldwide interoperability, so users can use their phone to buy goods around the world, regardless of operator network or device type. The mobile payments market could hit $1.1 trillion by 2014, IE Market Research says, with a third of that total being comprised of NFC transactions. While IE says only 8 percent of Americans have paid for an item with their smartphone, mobile payments are much more common in at least 15 other countries, including Taiwan, where 32 percent of that nation's consumers have paid for something using their cell phones, followed by South Korea (29 percent) and Singapore (21 percent). Members of the GSMA include Deutsche Telekom, Europe's largest phone company, Vodafone, France Telekom and China Unicom. U.S.-based carriers also are racing to roll out NFC services. Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile USA in November announced a joint project called ISIS, with hopes of offering an NFC service next year.
Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.