Google was already a “Principal” member of the NFC Forum, an industry body with a mission to advance all the different aspects of Near Field Communications wireless tech. But it has now confirmed that it’s bumping its membership status to “Sponsor,” which is the top level in the organization. Already at this level are familiar names like Intel, MasterCard, Visa, and Qualcomm–along with Samsung. Samsung recently signed a deal with Visa to include the payment company’s PayWave NFC wireless payment system in all future NFC-compatible Samsung smartphones.
Speaking at MWC last week, Visa’s head of mobile Bill Gajda noted that for a long time it was “always going to be next year that NFC was going to take off.” The close-range wireless technology is most closely associated with future payment solutions where users will wave their phone (or perhaps their smartwatch) over a sensor pad at a merchant, but it can also transfer data and is commonly in use for transport tickets. It’s long been rumored that Apple would include the technology in its iPhone, but so far it hasn’t done so. Google, which has recently been losing some of the limelight to its Android partner Samsung, may be trying to seize the initiative.