Swapping wallets for smartphones


Google Inc is trying to nudge consumers and merchants into a world where the smartphone has replaced the wallet as the container for credit cards, coupons and receipts.

In Google's vision shoppers will touch their phone screen to select a card, then tap the phone to a credit-card reader in a store or restaurant. Google would make money by selling coupons and advertising that come along with the experience.

It's a goal shared by others. The Internet search and advertising company faces tough competition from cellphone companies, payment card issuer Visa Inc, eBay Inc's PayPal payment service and others. All of them want to play the central role of tying together phones, retailers and banks into a new payment system.

This isn't Google's first attempt at electronic payments. The company, based in Mountain View, California, introduced an online payment service called "Checkout" five years ago. It hasn't posed a serious threat to PayPal.

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