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LG comes to the NFC party

European launch of proximity payments in 2012

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LG Electronics plans to launch proximity payments in Europe before the end of next year, putting it into competition with just about everyone else.

The company told Reuters it is already beta-testing handsets, point-of-sale equipment and cloud-based transaction processing systems with a view to putting them into the hands of European consumers next year. LG said it would be sticking NFC into its televisions too, though with the competition launching this year it may be coming late to the party.

Everything Everywhere has already announced UK plans to enable proximity payments using Near Field Communications handsets, before the summer, and Apple will certainly announce an NFC-equipped iPhone this year along with supporting infrastructure. Google and Nokia are already pushing out suitable hardware in the form of the Nexus S and C7 handsets: neither is capable of making payments without a software upgrade, but that's a small matter compared to the provision of payment infrastructure and point-of-sale equipment.

Everything Everywhere will be working with Barclaycard for the point-of-sale, an unnamed manufacturer will work on handsets and Gemalto is to provide the back-end infrastructure. That kind of cooperative arrangement is often necessary, but complicates things. LG will be hoping it can provide a larger part of the value chain, and thus derive more value, but it will still need partners before it can start deploying.

Given the time scales, we're assuming those partners have yet to be signed up, but it's going to be a busy year for signing up payment partners and if LG leaves it too long, all the dance cards might have already been filled. ®

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