Google is teaming up with Citigroup and MasterCard in order to deliver near-field communication payment options to owners of Android handsets, according to reports.
The contactless near-field communication (NFC) technology would allow users to make payments for small items in shops simply by waving their handset in front of a small reader device at the checkout.
Google is reportedly in talks with Citigroup and MasterCard to deliver an app that would allow customers of those banks to pay for products or services using an on-device app, according to the Wall Street Journal on Monday.
Citing "people familiar with the matter", the report said that the project is in its early stages but that the Google-backed system is expected to be released this year.
Google is not expected to take a financial cut from offering the service but the system could also allow retailers to learn more about its customers and offer discount codes, vouchers and ads via the service, the report said.
According to a filing with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on 24 March, it would also provide Google with a sneak peek at the items a customer is purchasing.
The USPTO application is for a "distributed electronic commerce system with centralised point of purchase" which, essentially, sets Google up as a third-party broker to any purchase.
However, under the terms of the patent filing — and unlike some third-party payment services — Google would act as more than a conduit to payment by being granted access to view the contents of the "virtual shopping cart" in exchange for providing the service.