Google targets mobile money as key strategy

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Google CEO Eric Schmidt has identified the development of mobile money platforms as a key strategic priority for the search engine giant in 2011.

In a guest column for the Harvard Business review, Schmidt says Google’s strategic initiatives for coming year are “all about mobile”. He writes: “We are at the point where, between the geolocation capability of the phone and the power of the phone’s browser platform, it is possible to deliver personalised information about where you are, what you could do there right now…and to deliver such a service at scale.”

To accomplish its ambitions, says Schmidt, Google will need to do some serious spadework on three fronts, including the development of faster networks, mobile money and smartphone distribution. “We want to increase the availability of inexpensive smartphones in the poorest parts of the world,” he says. “Phones, as we know, are used as banks in many poorer parts of the world – and modern technology means that their use as financial tools can go much further than that.”

Outside the developing world, Google has already made plain its ambitions to be at the forefront of mobile commerce and is currently advertising for a technical account manager for m-commerce on its site and since posting the opening has reaffirmed its ambitions to become a power player in mobile payments by poaching PayPal’s m-platform leader Osama Bedier.

Bedier, vice president of platform, mobile and new ventures at PayPal has been with the company for eight years. He led the successful open platform development programme two years ago and more recently has been a central player in PayPal’s expansion into new form factors, including mobile payments.

Speaking at a Web 2.0 summit in November, Schmidt said the company was planning to incorporate NFC technology into the next wave of Android smartphones. “You’ll be able to walk in a store and do commerce. You’d bump for everything and eventually replace credit cards,” he told the audience.