App turns Google Nexus phone into payment tool

Mobile payment app from Charge Anywhere can take advantage of the NFC technology in the Nexus S smartphone, letting it process credit cards and checks on the go.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

Charge Anywhere

Owners of Google's Nexus S smartphones can soon use the device to process mobile payments via near-field communications tech, via software from a company called Charge Anywhere.

Charge Anywhere's existing mobile payments application has already allowed owners of iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android devices to process credit card payments with their phones and a dedicated reader to swipe the cards.

But the latest version to the software, announced at yesterday's CTIA trade show, turns the Nexus S phone into a full mobile payment terminal. This means that owners can process MasterCard PayPass and Visa Blink payments remotely using the phone's built-in NFC technology.

Though the software update is ready, it hasn't been officially deployed yet. Dmitriy Lerman, Charge Anywhere's director of marketing, told CNET that his company currently can make the software available to large customers and will soon release it for all customers.

The cost of Charge Anywhere's overall service to customers is $9.99 a month, which includes the back-end payment processing, tech support, and a Web-based management system.

Near-field communications allows devices, such as mobile phones, to swap information when they're near each other. The technology is being touted as a wallet-free way for consumers to pay for items by using their smartphones to send payments directly from their bank accounts to a store terminal.

"The Charge Anywhere payment platform has always stayed ahead of the payment technology curve and by adding NFC payments ensures that our partnering financial institutions, mobile network operators, and distributors always have the most competitive advantage in delivering secure payment technology," Charge Anywhere CEO Paul Sabella said in a statement.

The Nexus S is currently being offered by T-Mobile. But a new 4G version of the phone will be heading to Sprint this spring. Samsung's new Galaxy S II smartphone also includes an option for NFC. Charge Anywhere said it will expand its updated software to other phones beyond the Nexus S as they gain the necessary NFC technology.

Rumors have been swirling recently over whether the iPhone 5 will include NFC. But some experts believe Apple faces hurdles before it can do so. Those hurdles rest not so much with the technology itself but more with the overall infrastructure and how Apple would partner with retailers and other players.

Research In Motion has also been eyeing NFC but has been running into conflicts with mobile carriers over who will control the mobile payment information, according to a recent Wall Street Journal story.

Several mobile carriers and manufacturers have been jumping onto the NFC bandwagon with plans for their own mobile payment networks.

AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile USA have started a mobile payment network called Isis with an eye toward officially launching it by early next year. T-Mobile has been working with companies in the U.K. to unveil an NFC system there this summer. T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom is ramping up a system destined for Europe and eventually the U.S. this year.

LG is developing a mobile payments system for Europe, slated to launch next year. And recent reports say that Google plans to test an NFC system in New York and San Francisco within the next few months.

Updated at 10:30 PT with pricing information.