HERE's another challenge for retailers in 2012: Google Wallet. The new application will soon be installed on many mobile phones and will convert a phone into an electronic wallet that will allow people to pay for goods without cash or a card.
The system uses a technology called near-field communication, or NFC for short.
The presence of NFC tags on goods allows transactions without physically reading a credit card. NFC tags record everything about the consumer's credit card and then holds it in a safe memory somewhere on the mobile equipment.
In short, it allows consumer purchases without wallets and credits cards.
Google Wallet has been successfully launched and tested in Indonesia and New York and is set to be tested somewhere in Europe within the next three months.
At present, Google Wallet supports Citi MasterCard credit cards and the Google Prepaid Card but most other credit card providers are in talks with Google so that list will grow.
If the security and cost issues can be hammered out, Google Wallet will soon be able to hold information about the various credit cards consumers typically own.
This means consumers will soon be able to ditch their wallets and only carry mobile phones.
Paying with Google Wallet is very easy, all consumers need to do is register credit cards to the Google Wallet Application that can be downloaded and installed in their smartphones.
They can register credit cards by supplying the usual information along with the card's expiry date and the three digit code usually asked for when you purchase online. Google Wallet users must then wait for registration confirmation and a list of accredited shops that already allow a purchase.
When paying with Google Wallet, customers are urged to look for the symbols that say they accept mobile pass.
These symbols usually appear on shop windows with logos for wireless transfer, pay pass or ready acceptance of Google Wallet payment.
Google Wallet can also store gift cards from participating merchants.
The electronic code and validity of the same can be stored in Google Wallet in the same way that you have supplied your credit card information.
When using gift cards/certificates, the information is sent to the terminal of the merchant store recognising the validity of a gift card and validating the purchase.
Google Wallet will be preinstalled in the upcoming versions of 4G smartphones so it is not quite mainstream yet but it is a safe bet that it will be another challenge and opportunity for people doing business here in Ireland by the end of the year.
Tara Dalrymple is the founder and chief executive of Busy Lizzie and can be found at www.busylizzie.ie.