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Facebook staff get stuck into NFC

Doing the Bling (Nation) thing

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Facebook staff are getting NFC stickers to attach to their phones as the company joins PayPal in trialling Bling Nation's proximity payment system.

The trial already covers Stanford University and the City of Palo Alto, and uses stickers with embedded Near Field Communications tags, as reported by NFC World. Now Facebook staff are being issued with stickers too, as the social networking giant again flirts with the real world.

The trial is based on Bling Nation, a transaction system that cuts out the traditional providers (Visa, Mastercard and their ilk), and provides a pre-payment system with lower rates for merchants and (ideally) greater ease of use for customers.

Those customers are invited to attach the sticker, which is linked to an on-line prepaid account, to the back of their mobile phone. Once that's done the customer can pay, at participating merchants, with a wave of the phone. A receipt is provided over SMS, without a penny going to Visa or Mastercard.

Bling Nation has been knocking around for a couple of years, running trials and testing the technology. It's not the first company to suggest putting a sticker on the back of a phone; Dexit was doing that in Canada almost a decade ago, but the involvement of Facebook is significant as the social network has already alluded to its NFC-based aspirations.

NFC World goes further, suggesting an unholy alliance of Facebook, Apple, Google and PayPal poised to take on the might of the incumbent providers. Such an alliance would have the money and might to create a competitive brand, assuming they could find a place to meet of sufficient size to contain the accompanying egos.

There's every indication that the next iPhone will have NFC technology built in, and Google has pushed Android in that direction too as well as making noises about extending Google Checkout into the real world. Bling Nation would happily work with 'Checkout, and could slip from the sticker to inside the phone easily enough, so all the pieces would seem to be in place if only the parties involved can agree the best way to play them. ®

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